By Brady Henderson
It happens every draft. A highly rated prospect waits longer than anticipated before hearing his name called, sliding down the draft board for any number of reasons.
Jesse Williams was that player this year. Some projections had the massive defensive tackle from Alabama being selected late in the first round, but it wasn’t until Day 3 when the Seahawks traded up in the fifth round to take him with the 137th overall pick.
Concerns about the health of Williams’ knee is the most logical explanation for why a player considered to be one of the top prospects wasn’t taken until the draft’s third day, a slide that cost him a significant amount of money.
The Seahawks traded up to take Jesse Williams after the defensive tackle from Alabama fell to the fifth round. (AP)
Williams, though, considered the positives.
“I wasn’t really disappointed where I fell,” he told “Brock and Danny” on Monday. “I’d rather wait and go to a good team than end up in a place where I couldn’t really help out as much. It worked out for me in the end and hopefully it worked out for Seattle as well.”
Williams played all along the defensive line during his two seasons at Alabama, but he was drafted by Seattle to fill a specific role. The Seahawks see him as a big-bodied run stuffer who can play the 3-technique tackle spot on early downs, a role filled the past two seasons by Alan Branch. Seattle expects Williams to compete with free-agent addition Tony McDaniel at that spot.
“This is a really cool football player,” coach Pete Carroll told “Afternoons with the Go 2 Guy” Monday. “He’s very, very strong, he’s naturally stout and he’s got a great toughness about him.”
Williams seems to have it all.
Production? Check. He was a junior-college transfer who started on the Alabama teams that won consecutive national championships. He was a second-team All-SEC selection after a senior season in which he made 37 tackles while manning the middle of the nation’s best defense.
Size and athleticism? Check and check. Williams was clocked at his pro day workout at 4.90 seconds in the 40-yard dash, an impressive time for a guy listed at 6-feet-3 and 325 pounds.
Oh, and he’s strong. Williams can bench-press 600 pounds, which is considered a lot of weight even in a sport full of massive men with jaw-dropping strength.
It was fairly obvious, then, why he fell so far down in the draft.
“It came down to people worrying about my knee,” he said.
Williams had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee after the season to clean up what he described as a “nagging injury that kind of progressed as the season went on.” The timing of the operation prevented him from doing everything but bench-press at the scouting combine in late-February. He did it all at Alabama’s pro day earlier this month, including that head-turning 40.
“I though that would be enough to sort of clear the air about my knee,” he said. “Obviously, it didn’t.”
Carroll said the Seahawks were concerned about the injury but came to the conclusion that Williams “was going to be plenty good enough with the time to recover.” So when the Lions were on the clock with pick No. 137, Seattle gave up a fifth- and sixth-round pick to move up 28 spots and take Williams.
“To get him all the way in the fifth round when we had him up a little higher than that, we were really thrilled about nailing him,” Carroll said. “So he’s going to get a great chance to play a lot.”