The Redskins bolstered their defensive line by adding James Smith-Williams in the seventh round (No. 229 overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft. Here are five things to know about Smith-Williams:
1. He is incredibly intelligent.
Smith-Williams has been a Redskin for less than a week, yet he's already one of smartest players on the roster.
Prior to playing at N.C. State, Smith-Williams scored a 30 on his ACT and had an unweighted 3.9 GPA with a weighted 4.9 GPA in high school. He was a member of the National Honor Society and the All-Academic Honor Roll. Then he earned a degree in business supply chain management, and he is pursuing a graduate certificate in policy analysis.
He also spent his 2018 summer as an IBM intern studying robotic automation. Oh, and he already has a full-time job at IBM waiting for him whenever his football career is over.
"NC State and the football program opened that door for me," Smith-Williams told the school website in 2019. "I work with students that are top of their classes at Ivy League schools, so to be exposed to their talents has been a valuable experience in making me a better employee and person."
However, his first love is still football, which is why he decided to put his post-athletic pursuits on hold.
"I just really love playing football. I love the competitiveness of it. Obviously, I'm thankful for IBM and what they offered me off the field, in that regard. It's a blessing to be able to keep playing."
2. He was on a list full of top picks prior to the 2019 season.
For 20 years, The Athletic's Bruce Feldman has been highlighting college football players who he designates as "freaks." The premise is to "showcase guys who generate buzz inside their programs by displaying the type of rare physical abilities that wow even those folks who are used to observing gifted athletes every day."
For 2019, the list included linebacker Isaiah Simmons and offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs -- both first-round picks -- and Smith-Williams for his astounding transformation since joining the Wolfpack.
When Smith-Williams arrived at N.C. State, he weighed 196 pounds. Four years later, he was 265 pounds. His weightlifting maxes are eye-popping; 420-pound bench press, 620-pound squat and 374-pound power clean. At the NFL Scouting Combine, he ran a 4.6 40-yard dash, repped 225 pounds 28 times, had a 32-inch vertical and a 123-inch broad jump.
"I wanted to gain that weight," Smith-Williams told The Touchdown. "I wanted to get bigger. I was lucky enough to be blessed with a phenomenal strength staff that really know what they're doing and helped me gain weight that was beneficial to me as a player."
N.C. State's strength coach Dantonio Burnett said Smith-Williams took the blueprint set by previous Wolfpack players and applied it to his own regiment.
"He's always getting the young guys together to do extra work," he said prior to the 2019 season. "He's taken on the leadership role and he's definitely primed for a big year."
3. He led the Wolfpack in sacks in 2018.
The Redskins have no shortage of sack artists on their roster. In addition to drafting Chase Young with the No. 2 overall pick this year, they also have four other first-round picks on a defense that finished top 10 in sack totals.
And now they have one more pass rusher in Smith-Williams.
The 2018 season was by far Smith-Williams' best with the Wolfpack; it was his first opportunity as a full-time starter. He recorded a career-high 36 tackles while breaking up two passes and forcing a fumble. He also led N.C. State alongside linebacker Germain Pruitt with six sacks.
Rushing the passer is something Smith-Williams believes that he does well, and he is excited to do that in Washington.
"It gives me a chance to attack. I'm a guy used to getting up the field, using my speed on tackles, speed-to-power hand usage, stuff like that," Smith-Williams told local media after being drafted. "Just giving me a chance to attack the edge, be head-up, taking on a lot more double teams to kind of beat you up a little bit more."
4. He's setting the expectations high to stop sexual assault.
There was something unique about Smith-Williams' uniform when he suited up for the East-West Shrine game in January. People just needed to look at his cleats.
To help raise awareness against domestic violence, Smith-Williams donned cleats specially designed by Set The Expectation, an organization dedicated to combating sexual assault and physical violence.
"I have many friends who have been impacted by interpersonal violence," Smith-Williams said in a statement on the organization's website. "As a college student-athlete, I felt it was very important to send the message that this is unacceptable; that sexual assault and physical violence is never OK."
Founder Brenda Tracy said on Twitter that it would be an "understatement" to say she was proud of Smith-Williams.
"His dedication to #SetTheExpectation is truly inspiring. He is the change we need to see in the world & proof that when survivors are believed & supported -- real change can happen."
5. He's looking forward to competing during training camp.
The Redskins' defensive line group is one that is full of talent. In addition to Young, they have Daron Payne, Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen, all of whom will be vying for playing time once the season begins.
With Smith-Williams coming into the position as a seventh-round pick, he will need to compete for a spot on the final roster. That may be daunting to some, but not Smith-Williams; he looks forward to the competition.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," he said. "I know there are a lot of talented guys, a lot of great athletes, so it's exciting to throw my name in that mix. We'll hopefully win some games, a lot of games."