When the Baltimore Ravens selected Brandon Williams in the 2013 NFL Draft, there was optimism that the third round pick could potentially become the biggest surprise of the highly touted draft class.
Williams was certainly up against the odds, dating all the way back to when he was preparing for the NFL Draft. A product of Missouri Southern State, Williams, 6-1 and 335 pounds, showed impressive skills at the point of attack, where he used his large frame to emerge as a very good defender against the run.
But with any player that comes from the Division II level, there is always going to be questions regarding a player's ability to immediately translate to the NFL. Williams will have the opportunity to shed that label this year, where he is expected to replace Arthur Jones and become an anchor on the revamped Ravens defensive front.
He has caught the eye of ESPN's Field Yates, who lists Williams among the players who are primed to become breakout players in their second seasons.
The door is wide open for Williams to step into a starting role in Baltimore's base defense after Arthur Jones departed for Indianapolis in free agency, leaving Haloti Ngata as a candidate to kick out to defensive end. Williams is an athletic and powerful lineman whose role was limited to just seven games as a rookie. Baltimore has a track record of identifying capable developmental talent, and Williams fits the mold.
A combination of injuries and inexperience affected Williams' playing time last season, but the opportunity to become a force in the middle of the defensive line is there for the taking. In college, Williams was able to dominate as a result of him being stronger than the opponent, while also displaying the mean streak that coaches love to see from their defensive lineman.
Williams also stood out as a result of his infectious work ethic. Not only will his extra effort pay off on Sunday's, but he will quickly gain notoriety in a veteran locker room for providing the extra effort while on the field.
His on-field performance, along with his good motor, impressed NFL scouts and analysts leading up to the 2013 draft.
#Ravens fans will realize what Joplin folks saw two years ago—Brandon Williams will out-work everyone. He's a good get.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) May 6, 2013
As the Ravens continue the transition with new faces leading the defense, Williams is in a position to use his second full season as a stepping stone for a successful and sustainable career in the NFL.