5 position battles to watch in Washington Redskins Preseason Week 1
3. Safety Depth: Montae Nicholson vs. Fish Smithson
It seems likely that the Redskins are going to keep five safeties on their roster to start the year. Their top four spots are currently locked up by veteran players including D.J. Swearinger, Su’a Cravens, Will Blackmon, and Deshazor Everett. For those wondering where DeAngelo Hall is, he currently resides on the PUP list and I don’t think he is roster lock by any means.
With that said, the fifth spot is likely to go to one of the rookies that the Redskins have on their team. Many may think that Montae Nicholson, a fourth round pick, would have the advantage coming into the preseason. However, undrafted free agent Fish Smithson has performed well in training camp and is currently ahead of Nicholson on the team’s first depth chart of 2017.
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Smithson had a terrific college career playing for the Kansas Jayhawks. He was a very strong tackler, but also possessed top notch ball skills that looked like they would directly translate to the NFL. However, he went undrafted, despite being considered a Day 3 prospect. The Redskins happily scooped him up and have been happy with his performance since.
Meanwhile, Nicholson was selected in the fourth round by the Redskins, but he was widely considered to be raw. He has all the tools to be a solid safety, but he has never put it altogether. It looks like he may need some more seasoning. If he doesn’t flash on the field, the Redskins may be forced to try and stash him on the practice squad for the upcoming season.
For those reasons, this is going to be a fun battle to watch during the game. If Smithson’s practice performance transitions into the game, he will get an early leg up in the battle for the fifth safety position. It also will be interesting to see how both players fare on special teams, as that will be a major tiebreaker if the Redskins have to make any tough decisions.