If there’s one thing I like about the NFL Draft, it’s that it can immediately create a chip on a players’ shoulder.
Take a look at Rey Maualuga. The guy was a projected first-rounder and the top inside backer. Instead, he went in the second round after Ohio State’s James Laurinitis.
The Bengals should really go thank everyone that drafted in front of them, especially the Rams for taking Laurinitis, because Maualuga now has something to prove. Another inside linebacker with a point to prove is the Dallas Cowboys’ top pick Jason Williams.
In a recent interview, Williams said, among other things, that he has felt underrated for a long, long time.
“I’ve been underrated for so long, I have a chip on my shoulder,” Williams said. “Nobody realizes what a great player I am. Now that I’m on a national scale, playing with the best players, everyone is going to see what a great player I am…I don’t ever want to settle for being a backup to anyone.”
Whoa. Big talk for a rookie, right?
But it looks like Williams can back it up. Even though he wasn’t invited to the NFL combine, he posted a 4.49 40-yard dash, 26 reps on the 225-pound bench press and a 39-inch vertical jump. When you figure that into a 6-foot-1, 238 pound frame, you have yourself a very athletic middle linebacker. Someone reminiscent of Cowboys linebackers coach Dat Nguyen, even.
Williams also seems to have a good Football IQ. During his career dating back to his high school days, he’s played quarterback, middle linebacker, running back, safety and outside linebacker.
So what does all this mean to the current Dallas Cowboys roster?
It’s certainly bad news for Bobby Carpenter, who is almost certainly out of a job in Dallas. Williams will probably take over linebacker duty from Carpenter in third and long situations. Hell, Stephen Hodge might push Carpenter down to third on the depth chart on the nickel linebacker chart. I also think that Williams will keep Keith Brooking on his game. He’ll have to keep looking over his shoulder for the hungry rookie.
Should Williams eventually replace Brooking at that inside linebacker spot, I think we could be solid there for a long time. Williams is a perfect foil for Bradie James, who is a tough run stopper. Williams is a sideline to sideline type of player who is a good tackler and strong in coverage.
The best part about Williams? The better the competition, the better he plays. Against Arkansas, Western Illinois’ best competition last year, Williams finished with seven tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
But it all goes back to Williams’ chip on his shoulder. He’s hungry, and he’s not afraid to let everyone know.
“My best came out when I played better competition,” Williams said. “I went into those games wanting to dominate.”