Redskins take Smith-Williams in Seventh Round

Brett Friedlander

James Smith-Williams had to wait until almost the bitter end of the NFL draft, but the NC State defensive end was finally rewarded for his patience Saturday when the Washington Redskins took him with in the seventh and final round with the 229th overall pick.

He became the second Wolfpack player taken in this year's draft, joining fellow defensive lineman Larrell Murchison, who went to the Tennessee Titans in the fifth round.

Smith-Williams’ draft stock fell after an injury-plagued senior season that saw him miss five games because of injuries in 2019.

He suffered a foot injury early in State's second game of the season, against Western Carolina, and was never completely healthy again the rest of the way. He finished with only 20 tackles and one sack, although he did lead the team with seven quarterback pressures.

Although the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Raleigh native has since received a clean bill of health, his durability will remain a question that can only be able to answer once the season begins.

In the meantime, Smith-Williams helped his case with strong showings at both the East-West Shrine Game in January and the NFL's Scouting Combine a month later -- at which he ran a blistering 4.61 in the 40-yard dash.

He also finished in the top 10 among defensive linemen at the Combine in the bench press (28 reps of 225 pounds), broad jump (10 feet, three inches), three-cone run (7.35 seconds) and vertical jump (32.0 inches).

Besides his health, the biggest uncertainty surrounding Smith-Williams heading into the NFL is what position he’ll play.

In addition to working out as an edge rusher in Indianapolis, the coaches and scouts on hand also had him run through several drills with the linebackers.

“Going in I’ve always been like a ‘tweener guy,” Smith-Williams said recently. “I can be a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. So I think that they’re looking for clarity in that regard, what position is the best fit, what is the future going to be.”

Regardless of the position at which he eventually lines up, Smith-Williams is confident in his ability to adjust and excel.

“I can kind of do it all," he said. "I think I’m versatile."

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