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Top OT prospect Connor Williams declares for the 2018 NFL Draft

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Texas v California Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

University of Texas and top NFL offensive tackle prospect Connor Williams has announced his decision, via Twitter, to enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

Williams will forgo his senior season, and sit out Texas’ bowl game in preparation for the draft. Williams released the following statement:

“I consider myself extremely fortunate to have spent the past three years at The University of Texas. The array of emotions and experiences through my years on the 40 Acres has been nothing short of amazing. The relationships I have formed with my teammates, the student body, and the staff have created a bond that will last a lifetime. The blood, sweat, and tears, and having been through so much together, will always hold a special place in my heart. Arriving as a freshman with wide eyes and an open mind, I couldn't have become the man I am today without those relationships and the lessons I've learned here.

My time here, from calling my father crying and informing him I had been admitted to the Red McCombs Business School, to holding the phone with my mother on the other end trying to inch the words out that my teammates had elected me as team captain, the joy and endeavors I have faced at this amazing University cannot be matched. While it comes with some sadness, it also comes with the excitement of moving to the next challenge. My family and I have decided it is my best interest to forgo the bowl game and my senior season to begin preparing for my professional football career. One of the reasons I worked so hard to come back from my injury was to help the team reach its goal of playing in a bowl game, and I'm proud we were able to accomplish that. I will continue to support my teammates in their efforts to finish the season strong and in the continuing growth that is happening with Texas Football.

I can't thank all of my coaches and everyone at Texas enough. They've all done so much for me. Thank you to Charlie Strong and Coach Wickline who were instrumental in bringing me here. Thank you Coach Herman, Coach Warehime and our strength coach Yancy McKnight who have been amazing to work with. I'm better prepared for my future as a football player and as a man because of you and so many who have impacted me here.

I look forward to the process and experiences ahead of me, but remain in such appreciation of how blessed I have been to truly know the 40 Acres. I know, understand and believe the true meaning of ‘Longhorn For Life.’”

Both the decision to enter the draft and sit out the bowl game do not come as much of a surprise, as Williams is a projected top 10 pick, and has been hurt throughout 2017, thus risking injury in a bowl game is unnecessary.

Williams has spent most of the 2017 college football season injured, but when healthy, Williams is the top tackle in this year’s class. Williams is a player I have previously mocked to the Ravens, and one that I think is a great fit in the Baltimore. However, as the Ravens continue to make a playoff push, the chances of landing this premier tackle dwindle. I wrote the following about Williams in a seven round mock draft earlier this year:

“I had Williams going to the Ravens in my mock draft last week, and I’m sticking to it in this seven round mock. As I wrote last week, Williams is my top offensive lineman, despite his injury. To me, Williams is a better fit for the Ravens. Mike McGlinchey, the other top offensive lineman, struggles at times when run blocking, but Williams is a much better all around player. In addition, Williams also shows more of the fierce offensive line play that the Ravens like. Williams plays through the whistle, and it isn’t uncommon to see the defender he is blocking end up on the ground. From what’ve seen, Williams is a true technician when blocking, and has drawn comparisons to Joe Thomas. Williams will need to transition to right tackle, but I believe he has the ability to do so.”

Williams makes a lot of sense for the Ravens, and will certainly be someone that Ozzie Newsome looks closely at. While the Ravens do need help at wide receiver, right tackle is still a position of need, and Williams can solidify that position for the long term. Expect to see his name around the Ravens a lot in the pre-draft process.