Narratively-speaking, there's always surprising stories concerning undrafted college free agents threatening to make the 53-man roster. There's the legendary class of 2012, marking the arrival of two starting linebackers in Vontaze Burfict and Emmanuel Lamur. But many players generate a positive impression and then unfortunately fade for one reason or another.
Undrafted candidates with opportunities to make the 53-man roster this season include wide receiver Jake Kumerow, who benefits by playing a position that's starving for talent at the bottom-half of its roster. Another player forcing decision-makers to pay attention is defensive tackle DeShawn Williams, who made an impression during Saturday's "mock game" and is drawing comparisons to All-Pro Geno Atkins.
"He's built like Geno," Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said via ESPN. "He's got the great quickness. He's a bit of a shorter, stronger guy, but he's got good explosion coming off the line. He's the classic example -- all these guys are doing it exactly the way I want it. They're studying, they're listening. It's like I told them this morning, 'If we just continue to play like that, we'll be hard to beat.'"
Indeed, Williams and Atkins are identical at 6'1", and Atkins weighs five more points.
Cincinnati signed Williams as an undrafted free agent after accumulating 161 tackles, five quarterback sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 24 pressures during his 53-game career at Clemson.
The Bengals have kept nine defensive linemen in three out of the past five years heading into their regular season opener, including each of the past two seasons. Factoring Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Atkins, Domata Peko, Wallace Gilberry, Will Clarke and Brandon Thompson as locks, the path to making the 53-man roster is particularly slim, considering we haven't even mentioned Pat Sims, Margus Hunt or rookie Marcus Hardison.
Regardless, Williams appears to be paving an impressive path that will lead to a regular paycheck during the regular season, at the very least on Cincinnati's practice squad.