Meet Dan Williams

As one of the top-rated defensive linemen in the NFL Draft, Dan Williams begins his career in Arizona with high expectations. Williams, the Cardinals' first-round pick, is expected to thrive at nose tackle in the 3-4 defense and should compete for playing time as a rookie. kicks off a new series previewing each of the incoming rookies headed to the desert, starting with Williams.

After slipping further than expected in last month's NFL Draft, Dan Williams benefited from that drop by landing with the Arizona Cardinals at pick No. 26. Williams was being considered by teams selecting in the top 10 and it looked as if he'd be off the board no later than the middle of Round 1. However, several trades turned the draft board upside down and Williams is now headed to the desert. The Cardinals rated Williams 11th on the team's draft board and general manager Rod Graves was ecstatic to make the pick.

Along with Graves, head coach Ken Whisenhunt was thrilled with how on opening day of the draft played out. With several teams transitioning to the 3-4 defense, the idea of a player like Williams who translates so strongly to the odd-man front being available was nearly unthinkable. As Arizona's selection grew closer Williams name was still on the board, a pleasant surprise for Whisenhunt and company.

"You start to let your mind think, OK, we're going to have a chance to get this player," Whisenhunt expressed following the draft.

Eric Berry, No. 5 overall pick
(AP Photo)

Williams was a three-year starter at the University of Tennessee, proving to be one the most productive Volunteer defenders during his tenure in Knoxville. After playing sparingly as a freshman, Williams accumulated impressive career totals including 153 tackles and six sacks. More importantly Williams dominated at the line of scrimmage, allowing other Tennessee defenders such as safety Eric Berry to develop into outstanding playmakers.

With an excellent combination of size and athleticism, Williams (6-foot-2, 327 pounds) displays the necessary attributes to compete immediately at the professional level. Williams isn't overly quick and won't get after the passer much but is stout at the point of attack, making him an ideal nose tackle in the 3-4 defense. Gabe Watson and Bryan Robinson will start on top of Arizona's depth chart at nose tackle, but Williams should receive ample opportunities to earn playing time throughout the year.

During Williams' college career he played in a more traditional defensive scheme but is excited about the Cardinals' aggressive style of play. He doesn't see the transition being a problem.

"I really don't think it'll be that big of a deal," Williams said after being questioned about his new role.

With the draft complete and offseason workouts already underway, Williams' NFL career is just getting started. Given Arizona's lofty investment in the former SEC standout, expectations will be high but also realistic from the Cardinals' coaching staff. With Watson and Robinson already on the roster, Williams has an opportunity to sit back and learn. However, Williams' skill-set and work ethic should allow him to see the field early and often during his rookie campaign.

Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at
or click here to access the message boards.

CardinalsSource Top Stories