Cowboys’ Sam Williams tops high-profile DLs in PFF’s Week 5 rookie grades
By Riley Donald
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and front office draft expert Will McClay may have just struck gold again. This time, in the form of the rookie defensive lineman from Ole Miss: Sam Williams.
The defensive front has the known entities of superstar Micah Parsons, Demarcus Lawrence, Dante Fowler, Osa Odighizuwa, and breakout star of last week, Dorance Armstrong. What could be even more enticing for the Cowboys’ defense, coaching staff, and fans is the emergence of Sam Williams.
Last week against the Los Angeles Rams, Williams had his best game yet as a Cowboy. The rookie had two tackles (which held the Rams to zero yards), a pass deflection, and a fumble recovery. What isn’t in the stat sheet is the pass rush ability he showed that flustered Matthew Stafford the entire day. His overall showing on Sunday earned him the title of the highest-graded rookie defensive lineman in Week 5, per Pro Football Focus.
This grade put him above draft favorites like Nik Bonitto and Aidan Hutchinson, which is a huge feat.
Cowboys rookie Sam Williams was the highest graded rookie DL in Week 5, per Pro Football Focus
His ability could continue to open up pass rush lanes for the Cowboys’ defensive line which is already more than most teams can handle. Dallas was able to live in the backfield last Sunday afternoon as there was constant pressure.
The unit combined for five sacks, six tackles for loss, and 11 quarterback pressures, which ultimately culminated in the late interception by Malik Hooker to thwart any Rams miracle comeback, followed by the cherry on top in the forced fumble by Parsons that Williams recovered.
If the Cowboys can get continued growth out of Williams, his athletic ability and depth will rapidly become an invaluable asset for Quinn and the defense in multiple ways. First off, Williams goes from being a body that provides rotational depth to another pass rusher defenses have to game plan for. That is the floor of possibilities.
What is even more exciting is what the Ole Miss product could become if you use your imagination and project his talents out a little bit.
The rookie has the athletic traits. Those aren’t in question. Williams ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash. Micah Parsons ran a 4.39 40-yard dash. For reference, CeeDee Lamb ran a 4.5, Justin Jefferson of the Vikings ran a 4.46, and Deebo Samuel of the 49ers ran a 4.48. Williams and Parsons are unbelievably fast for their size.
Williams is 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. Parson is 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds. The similarities are clear. For the slight speed Williams gives up, he makes up for it with his height and weight advantage.
If the Cowboys can get Williams to develop and pair him across from Parsons, the combo of them becomes arguably the most freakishly athletic pass-rushing duo in the NFL.