Just last week we told you to pay attention to former NC State catcher Andrew Knizner who is slotting in as the backup catcher for the MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals.
In that piece, we explained that the Cardinal’s long-time backstop Yadi Molina would be retiring at the end of the season, and they had been prepping Knizner to take over as the starter for the Hall of Famer next season.
We also explained that Knizner needed to finish the season strong after hitting in the low .200s on the heels of a season where he hit just .174. Cardinals coach Oliver Marmol also publically challenged Knizner in a press conference, saying they needed to see him swing the bat better.
Knizner seems to have gotten the message.
On Satruday night, the 27-year-old, 4-year pro made his presence felt, crushing a 2-run homer to left, which opened up the scoring in a game that Cardinals would eventually win by 1.
Andrew Knizner OUTTA HERE
— Starting 9 (@Starting9) August 28, 2022
Knizner finished the game 1-2 and was 2-4 in his previous game. Meaning, since we posted our piece on Knizner, he’s 3 for his last 6. Good for a .500 average.
Actually, Knizner had been quietly heating up before Marmol called him out. His .280 average in July was his best month to date, and August has been even better. The former Pack backstop is now hitting a sizzling .306 with a home run for the month.
If he can keep it up, Knizner will make it easy for the Cardinals to hand him the reigns as starting catcher in 2023.
Detroit Calls Up Zonovan Knight from the Practice Squad to the 53-Man Roster
Former NC State Running Back Zonovan Knight has been called up from the Practice Squad to join the Detroit Lions’ 53-man roster.
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Knight is being called up because the status of Detroit’s starting Running Back David Montgomery is unknown, after suffering a thigh bruise in last weeks game.
Last year, Knight had 85 carries for 300 yards, scoring one touchdown in 7 games, after being called up from the Jets’ Practice Squad.
NC State has 27th Most Players on NFL Rosters Entering Week 1 of 2023 NFL Season
Dave Doeren’s ability to send players from NC State to the NFL during his tenure has been truly impressive. There are 18 former Wolfpack players on NFL 53-man rosters heading into Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season.
Players on active NFL rosters
Ohio St 48
Notre Dame, Penn St 34
USC, Washington 27
Ole Miss, Texas A&M 23
South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin 21
Pitt, TCU 19
Cincinnati, NC State, Virginia Tech 18
Florida St, Illinois, Michigan St, North Carolina 16
Arkansas, BYU, Maryland, Mississippi St, Nebraska, Utah 15
Houston, Minnesota, Oklahoma St 14
Baylor, Boston College, Missouri, Purdue 13
Cal, Kansas State, Northwestern, UCF, Wake Forest 12
Iowa State, Memphis, San Diego St 11
Boise St, Duke, Louisville, Oregon St 10
17 of the 18 former NC State players on NFL rosters played under Doeren. It’s noteworthy which teams NC State is ahead of in these rankings. There are more former Wolfpack players on NFL rosters right now than players from UNC and Florida State.
Which PackPros Have the Chance to Make NC State History in the NFL in ’23?
Below, we will look at which former NC State football players have a chance to move up in the school record books in the 2023 NFL season.
Russell Wilson could catch Phillip Rivers on two possible categories in 2023. If he records one more game winning drive, he will pass Rivers for the most by a former NC State Quarterback in the NFL. If he leads Denver to three 4th quarter comebacks, he will pass Rivers in that category as well.
If Wilson rushes for 4 touchdowns, which he has only done twice in his career (both times were with his first three years in the NFL), he will tie Roman Gabriel for the 3rd most rushing touchdowns by a former NC State player in the NFL.
If Jakobi Meyers has 60 receptions, which he has done in the past 2 seasons, he will pass Koren Robinson, moving into 5th place. It’s also pretty much a guarantee that he will pass Ted Brown in career receiving yards, moving into 6th place in school history. If Meyers picks up 2 touchdown receptions, he moves into 9th. If he snags 5, he moves into 8th.
If Linebacker Germaine Pratt matched his 99 tackles from last year, he would pass Mario Williams, Jesse Campbell and Ray Agnew, moving into 7th place.
It seems very likely that Linebacker Bradley Chubb will finish the year with at least 4 sacks, which would move him past Darwin Walker and Willie Young, giving him sole possession of 3rd place in NC State history.
Former NC State Players on 53-Man NFL Rosters & Where They are on the Depth Chart
The 2023 NFL season starts tonight. Here’s a look at which NC state players are on 53-man rosters entering Week 1, and where they find themselves on the depth chart.
Russell Wilson enters his 2nd year as the starting Quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Hopefully, year 2 will be better than year 1 for Wilson, this time playing under Sean Payton as Head Coach. The past 2 seasons haven’t been kind to Wilson. After finishing as a Top-10 QB according to ProFootballFocus in 7 of his first 9 seasons, he ranked 19th and 29th the past 2 years respectively.
Wilson is beginning his 12th year in the NFL. In 11 seasons, Wilson has made the Pro Bowl 9 times, and earned 2nd Team All-Pro honors once. In 2015 he led the NFL in QB Rating, and in 2017, he led the league in touchdown passes.
|10 y||10 y||SEA||158||158||3079||4735||65.0||37059||292||87||7.8||12.0||234.6||101.8||427||24||32|
|1 yr||1 yr||DEN||15||15||292||483||60.5||3524||16||11||7.3||12.1||234.9||84.4||55||3||3|
|4 yr||4 yr||IND||46||30||11-19-0||552||928||59.5||6059||31||13||6.5||11.0||131.7||84.2||81||5.53||5.56||2||3||21|
|1 yr||1 yr||CLE||16||11||4-7-0||236||369||64.0||2608||12||6||7.1||11.1||163.0||88.9||24||6.23||6.15||2||2||10|
|1 yr||1 yr||MIA||11||5||2-3-0||141||225||62.7||1283||5||4||5.7||9.1||116.6||78.1||19||4.72||4.39||2|
|1 yr||1 yr||NWE||3||2||1-1-0||34||55||61.8||400||0||0||7.3||11.8||133.3||83.9||6||5.80||5.80||2|
|5 yr||5 yr||IND||72||16||300||1205||10||34||4.0||16.7||4.2||300||235||1725||7.3||7||36||3.3||24.0||78.3%||2930||6|
|1 yr||1 yr||BUF||9||1||6||-3||0||3||-0.5||-0.3||0.7||9||5||53||10.6||1||21||0.6||5.9||55.6%||50||1|
Jakobi Meyers is entering his first season as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders, after spending his first 4 seasons in the NFL in New England. Meyers is starting on the other side of Davante Adams. Meyers led the Patriots in receiving yards the past three seasons, and led them in receptions in 2 of the past 3 years.
Joe Thuney is entering his 8th year in the NFL, and his 3rd year with Kansas City. Thuney has been a starter from Day 1 (112 games), and will continue to start at Left Guard. Last year, Thuney earned All-Pro honors for the 2nd time, and made the Pro Bowl for the 1st time. In 2022, Thuney was the 5th highest graded Guard in the NFL according to ProFootballFocus, marking the 2nd time in his career he’s ranked 5th. Thuney has ranked in the Top-10 at the Guard position for the past 5 seasons consecutively.
Garrett Bradbury is entering his 5th season in the NFL, playing every single game (57) for the Minnesota Vikings. Bradbury has been the starting Center for Minnesota since the day he was drafted, and he retains that position. In 2022, Bradbury posted his best PFF grade of his career (67.5), which was the 11th best grade by a Center.
Ikem Ekwonu started every single game (17) at Left Tackle as a rookie for the Carolina Panthers last season. Ekwonu posted an admiral PFF grade of 65.3.
Rookie Chandler Zavala just earned the starting job at Right Guard for the Carolina Panthers. The starting opportunity was made available for Zavala due to the fact that starter Austin Corbett is still recovering from offseason ACL surgery, and will miss at least the first 4 games. Carolina drafted Zavala in the 4th round earlier this year.
B.J. Hill is entering his 3rd season in Cincinnati (6th overall), and his 2nd year as their starting Defensive Tackle. In 2022, Hill posted a career high 68 tackles.
|3 yr||3 yr||NYG||48||17||3||7.5||116||62||54||10||13|
|2 yr||2 yr||CIN||32||18||4||1||3||8.5||118||59||59||10||23|
Justin Jones is entering his 2nd year in Chicago (6th year overall) as the Bears starting Defensive Tackle. Jones has been a starter ever since his 2nd year in the NFL. 2022 was a year of career bests for Jones, posting a career high in tackles (52), sacks (3), tackles for loss (12) and QB Hits (7). Oddly enough, it was the lowest PFF grade of his career (45.8), which ranked 111th in the interior defensive line group.
|4 yr||4 yr||LAC||51||35||2||1||2||4.5||118||63||55||12||13|
|1 yr||1 yr||CHI||17||17||4||0||1||3.0||52||28||24||12||7|
Alim McNeil is entering his 2nd year as a starting Defensive Tackle in Detroit (3rd season overall). He made a jump in Year 2 last year, earning a PFF grade of 69.8 (59.8 as a rookie), which ranked 33rd out of 127 interior defensive linemen.
James Smith-Williams is the 2nd string Defensive End behind Chase Young for the Washington Commanders. He started in the 14 games he played in last year for Washington, but with Young back from injury, he is back in a reserve roll. Smith-Williams is entering his 4th season in the NFL (all in Washington). His PFF grade in 2022 was 59.8.
Larrell Murchison is the 2nd string Defensive Tackle behind Aaron Donald for the Los Angeles Rams. Murchison spent his first 2.5 seasons in the NFL in Tennessee, but midway through last year, he joined the Rams. Combined, he played in 8 games in 2022, totaling 102 snaps. His PFF grade was 56.2.
|3 yr||3 yr||TEN||26||5||0.0||13||5||9||2||0|
|1 yr||1 yr||LAR||3||0||2.0||1||2||2|
Kentavius Street enters the 2023 season as a third string Defensive Tackle for the Eagles. After spending his first three seasons in San Francisco, Street spent 2022 in New Orleans, where he saw action in all 17 games as a reserve, posting career highs in tackles (29), sacks (3.5), tackles for loss (5), and QB Hits (8). His PFF grade was 49.2.
|3 yr||3 yr||SFO||35||4||1||0||3.0||42||24||18||8||5|
|1 yr||1 yr||NOR||17||0||1||3.5||29||13||16||5||8|
Bradley Chubb spent his first 5.5 seasons in the NFL in Denver, including half of the 2022 season, but he spent the 2nd half in Miami. Obviously, Chubb enters Week 1 as a starting Outside Linebacker for the Dolphins. Chubb finished last year with 8 sacks and 20 QB Hits, earning him his 2nd trip to the Pro Bowl. His 8 sacks were the most since his rookie season when he had 12. His PFF grade in ’22 was 65.5.
|5 yr||5 yr||DEN||49||49||1||5||6||1||26.0||144||92||63||33||58|
|1 yr||1 yr||MIA||8||7||1||0||2.5||8||1||12|
Germaine Pratt once again will be one of the starting linebackers for the Cincinnati Bengals, which he has done in a full time role for the past three seasons. Even as a rookie, he started 9 out of the 16 games he played in. In 2022, Pratt exploded for his best year yet, proving himself to be one of the best linebackers in the NFL. Pratt’s PFF grade of 78.4 ranked 11th out of 81 linebackers, and his coverage grade of 87.2 ranked 3rd. He recorded career bests in tackles (99) interceptions (2), pass breakups (10), and tackles for loss (6).
Rookie Drake Thomas enters Week 1 as a 3rd string Inside Linebacker for the Seahawks. Thomas went undrafted, but was picked up as a free agent by the Raiders. Despite being one of the best linebackers in the NFL during the Preseason, Las Vegas waived him, with the hopes that he would clear waivers, so they could add him to their Practice Squad. Well, he was claimed off of waivers by Seattle, and made their 53-man roster.
Nick McCloud is entering his 3rd year in the NFL. As a rookie, he bounced between Cincinnati and Buffalo, seeing action in 2 games for the Bills. McCloud fortunately found a much more established situation in year 2, playing 14 games for the Giants, starting in 8. His PFF grade in ’22 was 65.6, ranking 51st out of 118 cornerbacks. Entering Week 1, McCloud is the 2nd string left cornerback. McCloud went undrafted in 2021, but has found a home in the NFL it seems.
|1 yr||1 yr||CIN||2||0||0.0|
|1 yr||1 yr||NYG||14||8||0||7||1.5||43||35||8||2||2|
Rookie Derrek Pitts exceeded all expectations, making the 53-man roster for the Bucs after going undrafted earlier this year. Pitts enters Week 1 as a third string cornerback.
AJ Cole enters year 3 in the NFL, after making the Pro Bowl in year 1 and year 2. After reading that sentence, it goes without saying that Cole is the starting punter for the Raiders. I forgot to mention, he did earn All-Pro honors as a rookie in 2021. Cole went undrafted in 2021, but signed with Las Vegas as a free agent.
Trenton Gill enters his 2nd season in the league, and the 2nd season as the starting punter for the Bears. Chicago selected Gill in the 7th round of the 2022 NFL draft.
Safety Tanner Ingle (Rams)
Wide Receiver Thayer Thomas (Vikings)
Running Back Zonovan Knight (Lions)
Defensive Tackle T.Y. McGill (49ers)