Saturday was the day for all 32 NFL teams to set their final 53-man rosters for the start of the regular season, and both of NC State’s rookies made the cut. Larrell Murchison, who was a fifth-round pick by the Tennessee Titans, made that squad, which is not so much a surprise.
James Smith-Williams made the Washington football team, and that, on the other hand, is a bit of an upset, seeing as he was a sevnth-round pick—the 229th player selected, to be exact, and the eighth player taken by Washington.
Ultimately, it was Smith-Williams’ versatility that earned him a spot. Via The Washington Post:
Seventh-round rookie James Smith-Williams landed a roster spot in a crowded room of defensive ends because of his position flexibility; he can play multiple techniques along the line and be used on the interior or at defensive end.
Smith-Williams also has been working hard to make a difference on special teams, which has impressed both special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor and veteran long snapper Nick Sundberg:
“The dude is stupid smart and just a freak athlete,” Sundberg told the pod. ”He’s going to be a dog on [special] teams. I think Coach [Nate] Kaczor’s really excited to find ways to utilize his athletic ability and just his overall cerebral-ness. The guy’s a freak, man. He’s going to do some awesome things.”
JSW’s athletic talents have never been in question; he ran a 4.6 forty at the Combine, which was the fastest time among all defensive linemen. He’s a workout monster who has made Bruce Feldman’s college football Freaks List twice, including last year. He just hasn’t had a chance yet to put that all together, mainly because of injuries.
Now he has a big opportunity. It couldn’t have happened for a better guy.