First Team All-Big 12 safety Fish Smithson is on his way to Washington after signing an offer from the Redskins. He’ll head to camp with the opportunity to compete for a roster spot.
Smithson came to KU from the Juco ranks and was a free safety at Kansas. He originally signed with Navy before attending Hartnell College his freshman year. After transferring to KU, he played in every game his final three seasons at Kansas, and started every game his junior and senior years. His senior season at KU was impressive enough to see Fish named First Team All-Big 12.
A quick look at the Redskins depth chart shows these players already on the roster: DJ Swearinger, DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon, Deshazor Elliot. Strong safeties on the Redskins depth chart are Su’a Cravens, Earl Wolff, and Josh Evans.
In the draft, the Redskins also selected safeties Josh Harvey-Clemons (7th rd, Louisville) and Montae Nicholson (4th rd, Michigan). Washington also picked up two cornerbacks in the draft, so clearly they are looking for some help in the secondary.
NFL.com says Smithson’s strengths are instincts and on-field awareness, but weaknesses include flat-footed tackles and “athletic limitations” in terms of keeping up with speedier receivers. He is projected as an NFL backup.
If he lands with the right team - and who knows if the Redskins are that team or not - I could see Fish becoming a Darrell Stuckey-type player. While Stuckey was a 4th-round draft pick, Fish definitely has some of the intangibles that would make him a capable backup and a good special teams player.
Brandon Stewart is the only other Jayhawk to get picked up immediately following the draft. He signed with the Chargers, who had host of other UDFA signings. Stewart will definitely have his work cut out for him if he’s going to stick very long in the NFL.
Like Smithson, Stewart came to KU via the Juco route. He started all 12 games for Kansas his senior year of 2016 after starting in 9 games his junior season. He did not garner any all-conference nods, but was huge in the KU win over Texas, with a pick-6 (1:12 mark), two tackles, and two passes defended in that game. However, his best game might have been against TCU, when he recorded two INTs and five tackles.