By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
7:49 AM EDT, June 6, 2014
For a big man whose job primarily requires him being an anchor at the line of scrimmage, Ravens defensive lineman Brandon Williams' mobility is regarded as a plus.
Williams has been among the Ravens' most improved young players through two weeks of organized team activities. He's in his second year after being drafted in the third round out of Missouri Southern in 2013.
Williams is making a bid for a starting job or a significant role after a relatively quiet rookie season in which the 6-foot-1, 335-pounder dealt with a toe injury and was limited to seven games. He finished with six tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.
"Brandon has looked really good," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said this week. "He continues to get in great shape. The way he’s built, you’re not going to see that body type too much. The amount of muscle he has packed on that frame of his is pretty incredible.
"He’s explosive, he’s quick, but he’s playing [with good] fundamentals. [Defensive line coach] Clarence [Brooks] has done a great job with him. I’m looking forward to when the pads get on, just to see how he does. The young defensive line looks good right now, but you know we’re out here running around in shorts.”
Williams is noticeably leaner than a year ago.
Strength is a major asset for Williams, who bench pressed 225 pounds 38 times at the NFL scouting combine and has bench pressed 525 pounds. He's well-known for a viral YouTube video of him walking on his hands.
"I've had a good offseason. I've been working out doing cardio and a bunch of other stuff," Williams said. "I'm lighter and leaner. I've gotten a little stronger.
"Definitely, the mental aspect of the game I know that a lot better. I know what to expect now. It's going to be good."
The Ravens are trying to build some flexibility along the defensive line as they ponder the best way to replace defensive tackle Arthur Jones, who signed a $33 million contract in March to join the Indianapolis Colts.
They have the ability to shift Williams between Jones' vacated defensive tackle spot and the nose tackle position where Pro Bowl selection Haloti Ngata lines up.
If Williams proves capable of recapturing his Division II All-American form, the Ravens could install him at Jones' old spot or have Ngata shift over to that position and give Williams a shot at becoming the primary nose tackle.
Williams is regarded as having prototypical size and strength for the nose tackle position.
"He’s a defensive tackle," Harbaugh said. "To me, that means you can play the nose, you can play any one of the shades, you play play zero-nose, you can play the shade, which is a gap-control on the center. You can play an inside-shade on the guard.
"You can play head-up on the guard or you can play a three-technique, which is the outside-shade on the guard. That versatility, and Haloti can do the same thing, that gives you guys that can move around a little bit.”
With Jones gone, Williams is hoping to assure the coaching staff that he's capable of providing steady play in the second year of a four-year, $2.675 million contract that includes a $515,000 signing bonus.
"Art's a great guy and a good friend, but I'm ready," Williams said. "This is what I'm here for."