OWINGS MILLS - The Baltimore Ravens added competition for playing time at nose tackle Friday night, selecting former Missouri Southern defensive tackle Brandon Williams Friday night with their third-round pick (94th overall) in the NFL draft.
Williams was a three-time Division II All-American at Missouri Southern and was a player who impressed the Ravens with his play at the Senior Bowl in January.
"He dominated the small-school level. There's no doubt about that," Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said of Williams Friday. "When you're looking at a small-school prospect, that's one thing you want to see is a guy that dominates, and he did that. ...
"But I think the biggest thing is that he went to the Senior Bowl and 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."
Improving at the nose tackle position was a primary objective for the Ravens heading into the offseason.
Former second-round pick Terrence Cody struggled in his second NFL season and veteran Ma'ake Kemoeatu was unimpressive by most accounts as well.
But Baltimore coach John Harbaugh has said in the past that Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata will see more time at nose tackle with the additions of Chris Canty and Marcus Spears through free agency and said Friday that Williams will immediately push for playing time at the position as well.
Said Harbaugh: "We'll have a nice little rotation at defensive tackle. ... It's going to be a very formidable group up front."
In 41 career games at Missouri Southern, Williams had 182 tackles, including a school-record 49.5 stops for a loss and 25 sacks.
He had 68 tackles, including 16.5 stops for a loss and 8.5 sacks as a senior last season. He also had five forced fumbles and was named the MIAA Defensive Player of the Year.
Baltimore's brass praised Williams for his strength - and he's a player who put up 38 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench at the NFL Scouting Combine, tied for the most at the event - but the Ravens also touted Williams as an impressive athlete with the ability to generate pressure on the quarterback.
Said Harbaugh: "He's smart. He's tough. ... He's a tremendous athlete. ... For a big man, he's really an athletic guy, so we're excited about him."