Rushing to the NFL

One of the recent trends in NFL drafting has been the pursuit of defensive "'tweeners" — players who played defensive end in college and slip back to outside linebacker in the NFL.

Dallas has added several such players in recent years, including Purdue's Anthony Spencer, SMU's Justin Rogers (drafted by New England and then signed as a free agent) and most recently, Oregon State's Victor Butler.

The Cowboys hope they have found another in Texas Tech's Brandon Williams, a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2008 who came out after his junior season in Lubbock. After a stellar junior campaign in which he collected 11 sacks and 12 ½ tackles-for-loss, Williams tested smaller (6-2 ½, 261) and slower (4.92) than expected at the NFL Combine.

So Williams becomes one of those players who coaches hope will play better than his measurables suggest. In a league full of scouts and executives who become enamored with 40-yard dash times and vertical leap measurements, Williams has to show that his production is better than his raw numbers.

It's possible that Williams could slide back to linebacker, as Butler surely will, although because of his modest speed and considerable bulk, it's possible that he could even slide inside, where fellow Texas Tech product Zach Thomas left via free agency.

But considering his specialty is rushing the passer, it's likely Dallas will try him first as an undersized defensive end. The 3-4 alignment the Cowboys employ generally calls for tall, bulky defensive ends, so Williams will have to show the ability to get off blockers to make plays in the backfield, and contribute heavily on special teams, to earn a spot.

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