Looking to upgrade the middle of their defense, the Ravens obtained a huge anchor from a small university.
The Ravens drafted brawny Missouri Southern defensive tackle Brandon Williams in the third round with the 94th overall selection, acquiring a Division II All-American selection.
He'll immediately compete with Terrence Cody, who's coming off hip surgery, for playing time at nose guard.
At 6-foot-1, 335 pounds, Williams bench pressed 225 pounds 38 times at the NFL scouting combine and is strong and athletic enough that he can walk on his hands, a video that impressed Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
If nothing else, Williams should prove difficult to budge.
Williams excelled at the Senior Bowl against major-college blockers, which is evident on this video.
"He's like a fire plug in there," director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said. "He's tough to move. He bends really well, keeps his pads down. His Senior Bowl performance, he completed well and never seemed overwhelmed on the big stage and really held his own throughout the week and in the game. We're really excited to get him."
The addition of Williams continues a theme for the Ravens' draft, bolstering the interior of their defense with him, Kansas State All-American linebacker Arthur Brown in the second round and University of Florida All-American safety Matt Elam in the first round.
"We talked about getting stronger up the middle," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Over the past two days, the picks have definitely addressed the middle of our defense."
Named the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year last season, Williams recorded 182 career tackles, 49 1/2 for losses and 25 sacks.
"He dominated the small-school level," assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. "When you're looking at a small school prospect, that's one thing that you want to see is a guy that dominates in the ame. And he did that. He went to the Senior Bowl and he really played well.
"He had a really strong week of practice against Division I players, more experienced guys and he looked like a legitimate 3-4 nose tackle. Jack Glowik, one of our scouts, really liked him. Jack lives in Kansas City and got a lot of really good information about him, and we had a strong comfort level with him as a person and also as a player."
Williams was a three-time All-American who had 68 tackles, 16 1/2 for losses, 8 1/2 sacks and five forced fumbles last season.
"I always knew I could play at that talent and level," Williams said. "I just had to prove to the NFL that I could do it. I always believe in myself eveyr step of the way. It just gave me an opportunity to just show my talent and show that I belong in the NFL.
Coming out of high school in Missouri, Williams was a partial academic qualifier so he enrolled at Harmony Prep in Cincinnati for a prep school year.
"I was partially qualified for my high school, so I had the ACT scores," Williams said. "I just didn't have the GPA score. So, I went to prep school for a year. After prep school when the NCAA came down on prep schools, so I had to either choose community college or Division II. I didn't want to go to junior college just because a lot of athletes get lost in the shuffle there.
"So my head coach from my high school called me with a list of Division II universities and Missouri Southern was on that list. That was my first visit to Missouri Southern. As soon as I got there, they had what I needed. They had school, they had an education and they had football. I loved every minute of it. It's been a tough road, but it's been a great journey and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world."
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