Leonard Williams: Q&A

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - The Jets first round pick chatted with the NY media today and here's what he had to say.

On if being drafted has sunk in yet…

I’m still kind of rolling around. I really haven’t had too much time to sit down and think about what’s going on, but at the same time, I’m really excited that the draft process is over and I’m settled in with a team. I think it’s a great fit for me. They have a great D-line group already here and coming in as a rookie I think this is a great opportunity to learn from a lot of great guys.

On whether he thinks it’s too crowded with so many great D-linemen already here…

Not at all. I love competition. I feel like it pushes everybody and I feel like that’s the best way to get the best out of everybody, when there is a lot of competition. I feel like everybody can learn from each other and I feel like it’s only going to make everybody better.

On his reaction to Muhammad Wilkerson’s Instagram post welcoming him to the Jets…

I wasn’t able to see it, but I heard about it. I also heard about Darrelle Revis’ post. It means a lot to me that those guys, especially on the defense, welcome me as a rookie. It means a lot going into a program knowing that guys are willing to play with you and bring you into the program.

On what he thinks his greatest attribute as a player is…

I think my greatest attribute is just having a lot of passion for the game. It makes me push myself to the limit. I have high expectations for myself and I want to reach them and it is all because of my passion for the game.

On what he envisions his role being on the D-line…

I’m going to be able to meet with the coaches. It’s all up to the coaches where I fit. I’m willing to play wherever they want me to play because being versatile at USC allows me to fit in to a lot of different spots. I would prefer to play defensive end, but if we move into sub packages I can move around and find spots to get to the quarterback.

On who he attributes his size and power to…

I have a lot of big family members. I get it from my mom’s side. My uncles are like 6-7 and all my brothers are about the same size. You guys should probably start recruiting my youngest brother now, he’s going to be pretty big. His name is Andrew, he’s only nine (laughs), but he’s already 140 pounds. He wants to play O-line. I don’t know any kid at that age that wants to play offensive line, most people want to play skill positions, but he already knows what he wants to be.

On not being able to play football at a young age because he was too big…

Yeah, exactly. I’m sure (my brother) is going to have the same problem, he is probably not going to be able to play until high school. At the time, I thought it was a bad thing, but I guess it was kind of a blessing in disguise. I talked to a lot of people at USC, they said they start to lose their love for the game after a while because they’ve been playing for so long and I feel like that’s a big reason why I have so much love for the game because I couldn’t start until such a late age. Every opportunity I have to put the pads on at practice, during the game, whenever, I like to play all out.

On the criticism that he was raw as a pass rusher and whether that is a fair assessment…

I guess I could say that’s fair. The biggest thing is, any rookie going into the league is going to have something to work on, and we’re rookies. Coming into the Jets is a great opportunity for me because I have so many people here on the D-line that I can learn from. I feel like the biggest thing is probably working on my get-off because working in a 3-4, playing a read-type defense at USC, you kind of have to flip the switch and try to change into an attack mode instead of the read. We were a 3-4, but then every once in a while we would play 4-3 on third downs. It was kind of hard to switch everyone when we are so used to playing read and now we have to get off, but overall I think I play well with my hands and I think I can only get better.

On similarities between the Jets defense and the defense he played on at USC…

We played 3-4 at USC and coming into the Jets, I’m just looking for a fit and waiting to meet all the coaches and see where they are willing to put me. I’m just really looking forward to working with all the guys. I’m glad that they are welcoming me in and I’m glad the process is over and I’m ready to get back to football.

On what experiences he thinks were particularly formative in making him the man and player he is now…

I’ve really always been self-motivated when it comes to football. No one in my family has pushed me to do anything specifically. Football has always been my own decision. My mom is just always telling me to do whatever makes me happy as long as it is good. They’ve always been proud of me. You meet a lot of guys at the draft, we got to have dinner with a lot of Hall of Famers and they were giving me a lot of advice. I was just trying to be a sponge and soak up everything they were telling me. One of the greatest pieces of advice that I heard is that everything leading up to this point doesn’t matter anymore because I’m coming into the league as a rookie and I have to earn my respect all over again.

On whether he patterned his game after anybody growing up…

Growing up, my dad was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan so I liked watching DeMarcus Ware a lot growing up. After a while, I started watching and studying a lot of different players. I try to get different skillsets from a lot of different people, but at the same time, everybody is uniquely different in their own way so I don’t try to compare myself too much to any specific person. I watch J.J. Watt a lot and the main reason was because I liked the way they used him, versatile, all around the D-line and try to create mismatches. That’s the way they used me at USC, so I liked to see the way he does it.

On what the moment was like for him and his family when he was drafted…

It meant a lot to me and my family. It was great to have them there. They have always been there to support me ever since I tried to play Pop Warner and got denied. They’ve always been there to support me no matter what and it was a big moment for our family. Everybody was really excited.

On what this opportunity means to him…

It’s almost unreal to finally be in this position. I feel like time has gone by so fast. I remember my mom calling me the other day saying that she rode by my high school and saying it felt like just yesterday I was at Mainland playing high school football. This process has gone by so fast, but what kept me going was just my passion and love for football. That’s really all I play the game for. It was never to go to the NFL and get a paycheck or anything like that it was just because I love football, I work hard at it and it eventually led me to this point.

On what he’s heard about the Jets-Patriots rivalry…

It’s a great rivalry. I respect it and I’m glad to be a part of it. Tom Brady is a great quarterback, I respect him as well. I feel like that would be a career highlight to get my first sack against someone that we have a rivalry against.

On not playing the Patriots until Week Seven…

I definitely want a sack before that. (laught


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