After trading away their first for Roy Williams and their second for more picks, this was the Cowboys’ first choice in the draft.Â If Goose Gosselin’s Top 100 is any indication — and it usually is — it wasn’t a very auspicious start.Â Â He was rated the 84th best player in the draft.
Scout.com only publishes a Top 50 and Williams didn’t make it.Â Indeed, he was only the 11th ranked outside linebacker on their list.
NFL.com is more enthusiastic:
Pick Analysis: The Cowboys pick up an athletic linebacker with outstanding speed and quickness. Williams has the ability to rush off the edge and is a potential playmaker as an outside linebacker/special teams player.
One of the most underrated players in the 2009 NFL Draft, Williams was a terror in opposing backfields since shifting to weak-side linebacker from strong safety as a sophomore. In each of his last three seasons, he ranked among the nation’s leaders in forced fumbles and tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
As a sophomore, he tied for 10th in the country with three forced fumbles and ranked second in the Gateway Conference with 10.5 stops for loss. In 2007, he placed fourth in the Football Championship Subdivision with five forced fumbles, tying the school and league record. His 16.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage led the team and conference. He would capture the forced fumble title in the FCS with six in 2008, as he also finished second in the league with 17.0 stops for loss.
Williams’ 14 forced fumbles set the NCAA FSC career-record and is tied with Adam McGurk of Division II Adams State (2002-05), Kenechi Udeze of Southern California (2001-03), Terrell Suggs of Arizona State (2000-02) and Antwan Peek of Cincinnati (2000-02) for the overall collegiate record. His 42.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage rank seventh in school history, fourth in Gateway Conference annals and 21st in the NCAA FCS ranks.
At DuSable High School, Williams was recognized more for his rushing and passing exploits than that as a linebacker. He led his team to an undefeated mark in the Chicago Public League’s Intra-City Central Conference as a senior and was a two-time All-City and All-Section pick. He rushed for 2,988 yards, threw for 3,015 and tallied 71 total touchdowns (35 rushing and 36 passing) in his career.
Williams enrolled as a 200-pound athlete at Western Illinois in 2004, redshirting that season as a scout team strong safety. In 2005, he appeared in 10 games, seeing limited action early in the year while being listed third on the depth chart at strong safety. His special teams play helped earn him a starting position for the team’s final two games, as he posted 23 tackles (14 solos) with a stop for a loss and one blocked kick.
Williams continued to excel on special teams in 2006. The All-Gateway Conference honorable mention shifted to weak-side linebacker. He was the only defender to start all 11 games for WIU. He was the recipient of the team’s Green Beret Award for his significant contributions to the kicking game. He ranked second on the team with 92 tackles (41 solo), including three sacks and 10.5 stops for loss. He also caused three fumbles.
Williams was fourth nationally with a school single-season record tying five forced fumbles in 2007. The All-American and All-Gateway Conference first-team choice finished second in the voting for league Defensive Player of the Year honors. He led the Leathernecks with 107 tackles (42 solo) and eight sacks. His 16.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage led the conference, as he also recovered two fumbles.
As a senior, Williams was named a consensus All-American and unanimous All-Gateway Conference first-team selection. He finished fourth in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in the FCS ranks. He started every game at weak-side linebacker, leading the nation with a school season-record six forced fumbles, the second-best total by a Gateway player. He finished second in the league with a team-high 17.0 stops for loss and had four sacks among his 67 tackles (39 solos).
Attended DuSable (Chicago, Ill.) High School, where he was recognized more for his rushing and passing exploits than that as a linebacker…Led his team to an undefeated mark in the Chicago Public League’s Intra-City Central Conference as a senior and was a two-time All-City and All-Section pick…Rushed for 2,988 yards, threw for 3,015 and tallied 71 total touchdowns (35 rushing and 36 passing) in his career.
Positives: Good speed and hustle to chase down plays down the line or from behind. Comes downhill in a hurry, but can change direction if the runner makes a move. Takes on fullback blocks in the hole so others can make plays. Often played as a stand-up rusher. Solid wrap-up tackler in space. Will try to get under the pads of guards to hold his position. Forces turnovers by attacking the ball with his hands after securing the tackle. Active in coverage, with the quickness to stay with tight ends and running backs.
Negatives: Has a strong safety build, thin in the legs and only adequate upper-body strength. May be a classic inside-outside linebacker “tweener.” Played inside quite a bit for but is better on the edge because he lacks the strength to hold up versus NFL interior lineman. Has tight hips. Could get off blocks better to make plays. Inconsistent getting through trash inside. Must learn not to overrun plays.
Compares To: JAMES HARRISON, Pittsburgh — This is high praise for an unknown player, but the more film scouts watch on Williams, the more they will notice he has the “it” factor. With patient coaching and in the right system, he could turn into one of the better finds in this draft. He plays with excellent field vision and awareness. Williams demonstrates the instincts to quickly track down the ball. He has the change-of-direction agility and lateral movement to string plays wide and hits ballcarriers with force, driving with his legs to push the opponent back through the rush lane.