Cardinals Strike Gold Again in Round 1

The Arizona Cardinals benefited from another unexpected drop Thursday night as they selected Tennessee DT Dan Williams with the 26th overall selection in the NFL Draft. Williams was thought to be a top-10 pick but somehow fell into the Cardinals' lap. Brad Wilbricht outlines how Williams fits in Arizona and previews Rounds 2-3 on Friday.

Outside of the two blockbuster defensive tackles in this year's draft, Tennessee's Dan Williams was expected to be the next interior lineman off the board. After Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy were selected back-to-back with the second and third overall picks, Williams was forced to wait all the way to pick No. 26. Sandwiched in between those picks, the Jacksonville Jaguars surprised everyone by selecting DT Tyson Alualu from Cal 10th overall.

For the third consecutive year, the Cardinals were not forced to compromise value to fulfill an immediate need. In 2008, Arizona selected CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in Round 1 and followed that up with RB Beanie Wells a year ago. Both players went on to experience solid rookie campaigns and Williams will look to continue that trend during the 2010 season.

Dan Williams

Williams was one of the better fits in this year's draft for the 3-4 defense and that factor likely contributed to him dropping to Arizona. Despite the fall, both parties should benefit as the Cardinals obtained great value with the 26th pick while Williams joins an improving defense with an opportunity to contribute immediately.

During his four-year career with the Volunteers, Williams displayed consistent improvement each season. He finished his career with 153 tackles and six sacks while playing in the SEC, arguably the nation's most talented conference. Williams (6-foot-2, 327 pounds) possesses excellent size and versatility in the trenches. He can hold his own at the point of attack and is built to anchor an odd man front.

With veteran Bryan Robinson still unsigned, the addition of Williams could seal his fate in Arizona. Williams will likely begin the depth chart behind incumbent starter Gabe Watson but will be expected to compete for a starting position sooner than later. Former second-round pick Alan Branch had been the team's future at nose tackle but is transitioning to a role at defensive end.

After acquiring Williams, the Cardinals enter day two of the draft with a great deal of momentum and look to sustain that throughout the draft. The next area of focus is expected to be the linebacker position followed by offensive line. In addition, wide receiver and cornerback are also areas of need and will likely be addressed.

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