Ever since the Ravens drafted him in the third round, rookie nose tackle Brandon Williams has drawn praise from the coaching staff.
Quick, strong and built low to the ground at 6-foot-1, 335 pounds, Williams plays with outstanding natural leverage and is extremely difficult for centers to handle.
Williams followed through on his practice performances with a strong preseason debut Thursday night in a 44-16 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He recorded four tackles, tying him for the second-most on the defense and played the majority of the game after substituting for Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
"He’s very strong, tough guy," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said of Williams before the game.. "Upfront, I talk about suddenness. I know it’s quickness, but there is a difference between getting off a block sudden, and he’s a guy that has a suddenness about him, if that’s a word. He’s got some power. I’m very pleased with him."
Signed to a four-year, $2.697 million contract that includes a $515,000 signing bonus, Williams is a former Division II All-American at Missouri Southern.
So far, the leap to the NFL hasn't appeared too big for him.
“To hit someone else, that’s the biggest thing," Williams said prior to the game. "To get out on the field and show people what the Ravens are all about.”
Although Williams isn't slated to start as he competes with Terrence Cody, he's expected to have a substantial role in the defensive line rotation. Ngata is listed as the starting nose tackle on the depth chart.
"I feel like I’m doing well," Williams said. "The whole defense is meshing together, coming together, getting plays right, just becoming family."
Williams caught the attention of the Ravens' scouting department at the Senior Bowl, reinforcing the potential area scout Jack Glowik identified in him when he became a regular on the Missouri Southern campus.
He's being mentored by Ngata and other veterans.
"All the veterans, they’ve been doing a great job," Williams said. "They give us a little hard time just because we are rookies. But other than that, they are wonderful. They’ve done a great job – everyone, Chris Canty, the whole group.”
And their advice consists of what?
"Just play ball, don’t worry about any outside distractions," Williams said. "Just play your game, learn the playbook, and everything else will fall in place.”
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