Williams' potential excites the Raiders

"If you watch him on tape, he's amazing," Bresnahan said. "We feel like we can take advantage of him as a rusher and see what he can do."--Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan


You want to excite Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan – mention Fresno State outside linebacker Sam Williams.

            The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Williams is one of the Raiders two third round draft choices along with USC running back Justin Fargas. Williams defines the term "specimen."

Despite his success as a linebacker, the Raiders view Williams as someone who can play defensive end. When fielding questions about Williams at the team's rookie minicamp one week after the draft, Bresnahan replied while grinning, "Wait until you see him."

"If you watch him on tape, he's amazing," Bresnahan said. "We feel like we can take advantage of him as a rusher and see what he can do."

For Williams, the opportunity to play defensive end is appealing.

"They always used me in coverage because I was fast enough to cover receivers," Williams said. "I also have the long arms to get in the passing lanes."

            Williams has added 45 pounds to his frame since his freshman year. He has the body-type to play defensive end coupled with his 4.57 speed.

Some casual discussions at the Raiders minicamp likened his frame to Tennessee defensive end Jevon Kearse. That comparison might be a little premature but the potential is there.

"I always wanted to play rush end in college but they used me more in coverage," Williams said. "I'm confident I can do it. I just need to learn the technique."

Williams would not be the first player the Raiders will have experimented with in that role. Last season, the Raiders used outside linebacker Travian Smith as a defensive end in some alignments. Could the Raiders have similar plans for Williams at some point?

"He has the size but it's too early to tell," Bresnahan said of Williams. "We need to get a better feel for what he can do. He's actually a little bigger than Travian (6-4, 240). He's got the combination of skills you look for at the position. You see a total upside in him."

Like all 10 of their draft picks, the Raiders are in a position with Williams where they do not have to rush him into immediate playing time since the team has several veterans. The most notable ones at his positions are defensive end Trace Armstrong and outside linebacker Bill Romanowski – two players who combine for 31 years of NFL experience.

"It will help because I don't have to rush things," Williams said. "I can learn from the veterans and there's no rush for me to go out there and play right away. He (Romanowski) was here during my workout so I talked to him. He's done it for 15 years, he's amazing."


Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at vdad7@yahoo.com

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