It didn’t matter how well he played on tape.
Regardless of how dominant nose tackle Brandon Williams was on the football field, it was circumstantial because he came from Missouri Southern State, a Division 2 program that many people have never heard of.
Still, despite the “small school” label, the Baltimore Ravens saw enough upside in Williams to make him a third-round pick this past April. It didn’t take long for the small-school stud to make an impression on the Ravens’ brass.
“I was really impressed with Williams,” Ravens GM Eric DeCosta told the Baltimore Sun at the conclusion of the team’s rookie minicamp. “We liked him on tape. We liked him at the Senior Bowl. Based on what we saw the last couple of days, he’s probably even better than what we thought he was. I really think the guy has a bright future. He’s an explosive kid, very, very athletic. He plays on his feet. He’s got heavy hands.”
Heading into the 2013 campaign, the Ravens need a new face at nose tackle. For the last few seasons, they’ve been hoping that 2010 second-round pick Terrence Cody could assert himself as a force in the middle of their 3-4 defense. That hasn’t been the case. Cody’s misfortune, however, could present Williams with the perfect opportunity to contribute from the get-go.
There’s no denying that Williams will suffer his fair share of growing pains as he adjusts to the speed, size and complexity of the NFL. Learning from players like Haloti Ngata and Chris Canty, however, should make it a fairly easy transition for the three-time Division 2 All-American.
The Ravens are confident that Williams will make an instant impact. He has the pass-rushing skills to collapse a pocket (a school-record 27 career sacks at MSSU) and the size/strength combo to swallow blockers in the run game. It’s not very often that a nose tackle presents the type of playmaking skills that Williams has, and it’s all the more reason for the Ravens to be excited about stealing him in the third round.
Williams is the definition of a sleeper. Nap time is over, though.