It’s early in the offseason, but it’s never too early to be talking some Tribe football! Currently, an astounding ten William & Mary players are participating in NFL camps this summer. For an FCS school such as W&M, this is no small feat. So who are these players? Will they all secure a roster spot come Fall? While it may seem a little naive to believe that all ten players will indeed make their respective squads, we of course believe they can do it! So let’s soak it in while the good times last and give you status updates on all ten, I repeat TEN, W&M players in the NFL. We will start with five players in this post, and will post about the other five later in the week. Roll Tribe Roll.
R.J. Archer, QB – Seattle Seahawks
It’s been a little while since R.J. Archer graced the friendly confines of Zable Stadium in Williamsburg, VA. Tribe fans everywhere will fondly remember when the Charlottesville native marched the Green and Gold into UVA’s Scott Stadium and led W&M to a victory over the Hoos. After graduation in 2010, the Minnesota Vikings signed Archer as an Undrafted Free Agent (UDFA). However, he was quickly cut before training camp; he then elected to sign with the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League.
In 2012, Archer had a cup of tea with the Detroit Lions before signing with the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers. But finally on February 9th of this year, Archer was signed by the Seattle Seahawks. Recent rumors are that the Seahawks haven’t done much to address the backup quarterback situation behind Russell Wilson, as Archer and Wilson are the only two QBs on the depth chart as of right now. Seattle will undoubtedly bring in more arms to the mix; RJ will need a strong training camp and offseason if he hopes to make the squad and back up Russell Wilson on this star-studded Seahawks roster.
Update [June 10, 2015]: The Seattle Seahawks just today brought back and resigned Tarvaris Jackson to compete for the backup job with Archer.
Sean Lissemore, DL – San Diego Chargers
Sean Lissemore was drafted in 2010 by the Dallas Cowboys. After spending three seasons in Texas, Lissemore found himself traded to the San Diego Chargers–where he has remained since 2013. Last year, he played primarily at the Nose Tackle position along the Defensive Line, where he enjoyed the most playing time of his career. Lissemore gained 8 starts, played in 15 games, and tallied 32 tackles and 1 sack.
Sean is currently listed as the starting Nose Tackle on the Chargers’ depth chart. Barring any sort of injury (he missed the entire 2013 playoffs due to a shoulder injury), we project him to keep this starting position and certainly make the roster this season. If you live out west, be sure to look for #98 in a Chargers powder blue uni!
Derek Cox, CB – New England Patriots
As recently as this week (June 8, to be exact), Derek Cox signed a contract with the New England Patriots. Since being drafted in the 3rd round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cox has gone on to play for 5 teams in his 7 year career. After performing well in Jacksonville for four years, Cox signed a big 4 year contract with the San Diego Chargers in 2013.
Despite the large contract, Cox was benched at different times for his inadequate play on the field, and was eventually cut. Last season in 2014, he signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings, but was cut after the team’s third preseason game– this led to a brief 3 day stint with the Baltimore Ravens before he was released again. However, Cox now finds himself on a New England squad that has lost 3 cornerbacks this offseason in Darrelle Revis, Kyle Arrington, and Brandon Browner.
He now joins a somewhat convoluted mix of inexperienced and young cornerbacks in New England under head coach Bill Belichick. We hope that his experience in the league can lead to a resounding second act by the former Tribe great. We believe that he has as good as shot as any to make the roster this year.
Mike Leach, LS – Arizona Cardinals
LS? What’s that? Well of course, it stands for Long Snapper! Mike Leach is a 38 year old NFL player who has been in the league since the year 2000. In Arizona, Mike has manned the Long Snapper position for 6 years–this year being his 7th. In March of this year, the Arizona Cardinals extended Leach a one-year contract, guaranteeing that he will be playing until he is at least 39 years old (Leach turns 39 in October).
When you put this in perspective and understand that most NFL careers last less than 5 years, you realize just how impressive Leach has been. He is a consummate professional, who also just developed and recently launched a product line with his wife; you can read about it here. Any way you look at it, it seems that Leach will have plenty to keep himself busy with as he looks forward to his days after the NFL.
Jonathan Grimes, RB – Houston Texans
As most of you fondly remember, Jonathan Grimes finished his career at William & Mary as a four year starter, the school’s leader in rushing attempts (936), rushing yards (4,541), kickoff return yards (2,289), and all purpose yards (7,955). He finished ranked 3rd all time in the CAA for all purpose yards and 6th all time in rushing yards. To put it simply, he was one of the greatest all around William & Mary running backs in program history.
Since his time with the Tribe, Grimes has found himself bouncing around a few teams: the Jaguars, Jets, and most notably, the Houston Texans. However, Grimes has carved out a niche as a backup running back in Houston, where he has been since 2013. Two seasons ago, when Ben Tate was injured, Grimes started a regular season game, finishing with 50 yards on the ground and 76 yards receiving. This game highlighted what we believe to be Grimes’ best asset, his pass catching ability out of the backfield.
Unfortunately for Grimes this offseason, the Texans have reloaded their running back corps. In addition to Arian Foster as the usual starter, the Texans have Alfred Blue, Chris Polk, and Kenny Hilliard (rookie out of LSU) to compete with Grimes. We hope that Grimes’ status as the incumbent will assist him mightily in this competition. But either way you look at it, we believe Grimes has proven himself on the field, and is certainly capable of contributing on several NFL teams as at least a 3rd down back.
Be sure to check in within the next week for our second set of NFL Tribe player updates! With five more to go, there’s plenty more to talk about! LET’S GO TRIBE!!!