Sam Williams, DE
Williams was the Cowboys’ second-round pick (No. 56 overall) in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Ole Miss. The edge rusher was a force to be reckoned with on defense for Mississippi in his final season: tallying 12.5 sacks, 57 tackles, and a whopping 15 tackles for loss.
There was no doubt that Williams was talented coming into the draft, but his off-the-field issues were troublesome. That was a big reason why he fell to Dallas at the end of round two.
But Williams’ talent was surely seen by the Cowboys in his rookie season, especially in the limited snaps that he played. With DeMarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons, and Dorance Armstrong as the primary outside pass rushers, it was tough for the rookie to get on the field.
Still, the rookie put up four sacks to go with 22 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, nine quarterback hits, and forced one fumble in his first season. Williams only played more than 20 snaps six times in 2022 and still found a way to make an impact.
His biggest game came in Week 7 against the Lions. In just 14 snaps in that game, Williams sacked Jared Goff twice — the first multi-sack game of his career — and finished the contest with three tackles, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble, and recovered a fumble.
In just 14 snaps, the rookie literally made an impact on almost every down that he was in. He then followed that performance up with another sack, tackle for loss, and a quarterback hit in Week 10 against the Packers.
It’s encouraging that McCarthy is already talking about giving Williams more playing time in 2023 and for good reason. He showed big flashes of his potential when given the chance and finished tied for fifth in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting in 2022.
The Cowboys will still have Parsons, Armstrong, and Lawrence all rushing the passer next season. But leave it to Dan Quinn to help Williams take that next step in his game in his second year.
Dallas already finished tied for first in the NFL last season in team pass rush win rate at 52%. Now with Williams set to receive more playing time, the Cowboys can be even more dangerous defensively.