NFL teams finalized their rosters on Saturday, and with that we now know how many former NC State players will be on active NFL rosters when their season starts next week - the opening game on Thursday, however, will not feature any former State players.
NC State players on active rosters:
J.R. Sweezy - #64 - OG - Arizona Cardinals
For some reason, it feels like Sweezy is still protecting Russell Wilson in Seattle, but he now enters his second year with the Cardinals (and the final year of his contract).
Juston Burris - #31 - SS - Carolina Panthers
Burris is looking like he’ll be the starting Strong Safety for the Panthers this year after starting nine games for the Browns a year ago.
Ryan Finley - #5 - QB - Cincinnati Bengals
As the whole world knows, the Bengals used the top pick of the draft last year to take Joe Burrow. Finley will be Burrow’s back-up, but does at least have three games of starting experience to fall back on should the team need his services. The fact that the Bengals are not carrying a third QB on the active roster tells you they think pretty highly of Finley.
Germain Pratt - #57 - LB - Cincinnati Bengals
Pratt is set to begin the season as the Bengals’ starter at the Will LB spot, having started nine games for Cincy as a rookie in 2019.
Bradley Chubb - #55 - DE/LB - Denver Broncos
Chubb notched 12.0 sacks as a rookie in 2018 and then had his 2019 season cut short due to a torn ACL early in the year. The Broncos also decided to move Chubb to the Sam LB spot this season, so we’ll see how that plays out. Sounds kind of like what the Texans did back in 2011 with Mario Williams.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling - #83 - WR - Green Bay Packers
He might have finished his career at South Florida, but Valdes-Scantling spent two years at NC State after being a member of Dave Doeren’s initial recruiting class. The third-year pro is slated as the Pack(ers) WR3 this year.
Jacoby Brissett - #7 - QB - Indianapolis Colts
Brissett will be Philip Rivers’ backup in Indy this year, where neither QB is signed past this season. He has made 30 starts in three years with the Colts (plus another two with the Patriots before he was traded to the Colts), plus he’s not even 28 yet. Given his record, he’ll play in the league for a long time still - and, yes, he’s damn good enough to be a starter somewhere.
Nyheim Hines - #21 - RB - Indianapolis Colts
Hines will start the year as the 3rd string RB on the Colts roster behind Marlon Mack (who has run for 1,999 yards over the last two years) and 2020 2nd round pick Jonathan Taylor. Hines will again handle kickoff and punt return duties.
Philip Rivers - #17 - QB - Indianapolis Colts
After 16 years with the Chargers, Rivers signed a 1-year, $25M deal with the Colts in the offseason, looking for one last hurrah before hitting retirement. He’ll be working behind a much better offensive line than he’s had for most of his career in San Diego/Los Angeles, and there are plenty of pieces in place across the entire roster to give Rivers a decent chance to ride off into the sunset.
Josh Jones - #29 - SS - Jacksonville Jaguars
A starter of 12 games over his first two years in Green Bay, Jones fell out of favor with the Packers and then only appeared in six games last year with the Cowboys. He’s now with the rebuilding Jaguars, where he’ll be the starting strong safety for a talented defense.
Will Richardson - #76 - OT - Jacksonville Jaguars
Richardson made two starts in 2019, but will enter this season as the back-up Left Tackle for the Jaguars. Everyone wants to talk about Gardner Minshew’s facial hair, but nobody wants to acknowledge the straight-up man beard that Richardson rocks.
A.J. Cole III - #6 - P - Las Vegas Raiders
Cole - or his grandfather - will be the starting Punter (as well as the Holder for placekicking) as the Raiders make the move to Las Vegas.
Justin Jones - #93 - DT - Los Angeles Chargers
Jones will head into his third year with the Chargers and his second as a starter for the squad. That Chargers starting D-line will feature Jones and Linval Joseph in the interior and Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram at the DE spots. The rest of the defense might stink, but that’s a heck of a D-line.
Garrett Bradbury - #56 - C - Minnesota Vikings
Bradbury returns as the starting Center for the Vikings, a position he will likely hold for many years going forward.
Jakobi Meyers - #16 - WR - New England Patriots
After hauling in 26 passes for 359 yards as an undrafted rookie in 2019, Meyers returns as a depth option at receiver for the Patriots. His path to significant playing time increased substantially with the Patriots’ release of Mohamed Sanu. Meyers is likely to back up 2019 first round draft pick N’Keal Harry, but also could beat out NFL journeyman Damiere Byrd for the starting receiver position opposite Harry.
Joe Thuney - #62 - OG - New England Patriots
Thuney signed a 1-year, $14.7M deal with the Patriots in the off-season to remain on the interior of the New England offensive line. He’s one of the best in the league at what he does, and will likely see a long-term deal along those same lines after the season.
B.J. Hill - #95 - DT - New York Giants
Over his first two years with the Giants, Hill made 17 starts, but just five of those came last year, which coincided with a drop-off in production. He’ll look to bounce back this year and give the Giants confidence to let Leonard Williams walk via free agency after the season.
Jaylen Samuels - #38 - RB - Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s been painful watching the Steelers waste JaySam’s skills. James Conner is the team’s #1 RB, but JaySam should finish 2nd among the team’s RBs in touches despite 2nd year player Benny Snell technically being the 2nd string RB. It’s a shame that JaySam ended up in an organization that lacks offensive creativity. #freejaysam
Kentavius Street - #95 - DL - San Francisco 49ers
After a great camp, Street is listed as a back-up Defensive Tackle. His athleticism allows him to rotate along the entire four positions of the defensive line, if needed, which increases his value to the team.
Russell Wilson - #3 - QB - Seattle Seahawks
Now entering his 9th season as the starting QB for the Seahawks, Wilson could top the 30,000 career passing yard mark in his first start of 2020. He’s also just 7 yards shy of 4,000 career rushing yards.
Larrell Murchison - #91 - DL - Tennessee Titans
Murch will start the season likely as a depth rotation option at Defensive End for the Titans, although his combination of size and strength could allow him to move inside to Nose Tackle in the Titan’s 3-4 scheme in obvious pass-rush situations.
James Smith-Williams - #72 - DE - Washington [Name In-Progress]
Smith-Williams has surprised in the preseason and will start as the back-up at DE behind Washington’s top 2020 draft pick, Chase Young. He will also likely feature prominently on special teams, given his combination of size and speed.
Other players to note:
- As has been noted on this site, Kelvin Harmon tore his ACL back in mid-June and will miss the 2020 season. He’s a prime comeback candidate for the 2021 season with Washington.
- T.Y. McGill was cut on Friday by the Philadelphia Eagles. After a promising first two years in Indianapolis, he’s struggled to find footing (or playing time) with three different teams over the last three years.
- Dontae Johnson was waived Saturday by the 49ers, the team that originally drafted him out of State and the team for which he started all 16 games of the 2017 season. He was signed to San Fran’s practice squad. Given the fact that the team’s #3 CB, Jason Verrett, has appeared in only six games over the last four seasons due to injury, I’d bet that Johnson will see time on the active roster this year.
- Mike Glennon was cut on Saturday by the Jaguars. That Glennon was unable to beat out rookie 6th round pick Jake Luton is probably a signal that Glennon’s career is just about over; however, the team did sign him to their practice squad for the season.
- The Buffalo Bills released Stephen Hauschka at the end of August after a good-not-great three year run. He has since worked out for the Titans, although they signed a different Stephen (Gostkowski), and had a workout with the Raiders Saturday (it would be cool to see a team with an NC State K-P combo.
- Ted Larsen, a 10-year NFL vet with 88 career starts, most recently worked out for the 49ers at the end of August, but is still listed as a Free Agent at this time.