It was in the Cards

A lot of folks were surprised when former Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams was still available at pick 26 in last weekend's National Football League Draft.

No one was more surprised - or more enthused - than Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who had the ex-Vol ranked as the No. 11 prospect on the team's draft board.

The Cardinals quickly scooped up Dan Williams at pick 26, getting a big body (6-3, 327) who should help upgrade a run defense that last season allowed 4.5 yards per carry and 112.8 yards per game - ranking 17th among the 32 NFL teams in the latter category.

Arizona defensive lineman Darnell Dockett was so pleased with the pick of Williams that he immediately tweeted: "Now I got to train the dog and we shall go bite!"

Williams has an excellent chance to start as a rookie. The Cardinals, who play a 3-4 defense, have just two other nose tackles listed on their roster - Gabe Watson and Bryan Robinson.

Robinson is a 35-year-old veteran of 14 pro seasons. The 6-4, 305-pounder started for the Cards in 2008 and 2009 - recording 17 solos and 11 assists in the latter - but has not been signed to a contract for 2010. He is currently a free agent.

Watson, a five-year veteran, packs 329 pounds on a 6-4 frame. He contributed 22 solos and 6 assists as Robinson's chief backup last season.

Alan Branch, a four-year veteran, has the size to play the nose (6-5, 338) but is listed as a tackle. He recorded 14 solos and 4 assists in 2009.

The only other interior line candidate on the Cardinals' current roster is 6-3, 305-pound Keilen Dykes, a two-year veteran who registered just 1 tackle last season.

Williams is somewhat limited as a pass rusher but that apparently is not a big concern for Arizona. The Cardinals registered 43 sacks last season, despite getting just one from Robinson and none from Watson.


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