Position: Defensive End
College: North Carolina State
Official 40-Yard Dash Time At Combine: 4.66 seconds
Official Vertical Jump At Combine: 40.5 inches
Mario Williams didn't have to participate at the recent NFL Scouting Combine, as he was already considered a lock to be selected in the top five of the draft. However, his performance at the combine has not only improved his stock but places him among the top two or three prospects in the draft.
"Mario has shown that he is a freakish athlete for his size," an NFL scout told Pack Pride. "He shouldn't be able to do what he can for how big he is.
"On the field he has the strength, speed, and the athleticism to be a force as a pass rusher and against the run. He needs to develop one or two more pass rush moves, and learn to play every play hard every down, but he is big-time.
"I think he'd be a top five pick if he hadn't done anything at the combine too though, but he definitely helped himself."
Entering the combine, most analysts considered USC tailback Reggie Bush and quarterback Matt Leinart, Texas quarterback Vince Young, and Virginia lineman D'Brickashaw Ferguson the top four players in the draft. However, Williams is now receiving mention with those talented prospects.
|Williams' Stock Soared At NFL Combine|
"If there wasnt such a premium on quarterbacks, he'd be in the top two with Bush, and it is a lot harder to find a blue chip defensive end than a blue chip running back. Ability-wise, I think he is better than any of the quarterbacks, [but] Leinart and Young were more productive."
Williams is often compared to current Carolina Panther defensive end Julius Peppers, who is also a North Carolina native.
"I think you can compare the two. Peppers is a pretty good pro, but I think he is a little overrated. Peppers just takes too many plays off now that he is in the league. I don't know how he was in college, but I think Williams can be better. The sky is the limit for Mario."
"Super Mario" is considered a major priority for teams like Green Bay, San Francisco and Oakland, who own the No. 5, No. 6, and No. 7 picks respectively. The latter two teams could look to jump Green Bay and select Williams, given his recent performance at the combine and productivity at NC State.
"I think there should be some movement up for him. A guy like [Williams] only comes along about once every five or so years."
ESPN NFL analyst John Clayton feels the same way after watching Williams in Indianapolis.
"Defensive end Mario Williams is a little lost in the spotlight of top prospects such as Leinart, Young and Bush, but he shouldn't be," Clayton said in his ESPN.com column. "As much as teams talk about trading up for quarterbacks, what about moving up for Williams? Super Mario made that more likely with his combine workouts.
"Even more impressive, it wasn't necessary for him to work out. Listed at 6-7 and 295 pounds, he ran a 4.66 40. That's Julius Peppers territory. Williams has the dominating body that can fit into a 3-4 or a 4-3. He would seem to be a perfect fit for the Green Bay Packers with the fifth pick, but other teams might try to move higher than that to get him."
Regardless of how he performs at NC State's Pro Day, Mario Williams has solidified his status as one of the top prospects in the 2006 NFL Draft, and potentially he just might be the best.