FanPost

Longshot Vikings: Undrafted Rookie Spotlight, Week 7

Continuing the Longshot Vikings series, the last two undrafted rookies to spotlight are a pair of Williams's. And the timing couldn't have been better with Vikings Training Camp only days away! The first player this week is linebacker Nathan Williams from Ohio State. He was the 27th ranked outside linebacker on CBS last year (280 overall). The second and final player in the series is cornerback Roderick Williams, from Alcorn State. Roderick Williams was not ranked by CBS this year, but was ranked in 2010 as the 89th best CB in that draft. However, he comes to the team from the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos. As I did in the first article of this series, you'll get a statistical breakdown, scouting report summary and video highlights on each player. Also, as I mentioned before, be sure to check out Arif's Undrafted Free Agent Summary, as that's a great place to start to learn more about these players, although Roderick Williams was not included in that summary as he was signed after the first wave. So, hopefully this will allow you to get to know our undrafted rookies just a little bit better!

Nathan Williams, OLB Ohio State

Measurables

Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 241
Age: 23
Arm Length: 30 5/8"
Hand Size: 10 1/8"
40-yard Dash: 4.83
Vertical Jump: 35"
Broad Jump: 9' 5"
Short Shuttle: 4.44
3-cone Drill: 6.99
Bench Reps: 24
Grade: 7th Round/Free Agent
Contract: 3 Years/$1,497,000

Ohio State Stats

Games

Tackles

Tackles for Loss

Sacks

Passes Defended

INTs

2008

9

9

4

2

0

0

2009

13

26

8

3.5

1

0

2010

12

45

8.5

4.5

3

1

2011

1

2

0

0

0

0

2012

10

40

2

2

1

0

Positives

From Dane Brugler of CBS:

Williams has a ripped upper body with swelled up arms and good bulk throughout his frame. He uses his aggressive hands to deliver a punch to blockers at the point of attack and shows good take-on strength to hold his own against the run. Williams is used to standing up near the line and was often moved all over the defensive front as a blitzer, rushing from different angles. He has experience dropping in space, displaying good instincts in space and fluidity to pick up targets out of the backfield. Williams closes fast in pursuit and plays extremely active, but also read and reacts well.

He is a physical tackler with strong hands to secure stops and knock the ball out. Williams is a high energy rusher and his tank never seems empty, playing with a never quit attitude.

Negatives

From Dane Brugler of CBS:

Williams lacks elite size and length for the position and has some 'tweener traits. He plays light at the line and can be too easily blocked or driven out of plays, struggling to consistently anchor.

Williams takes over aggressive angles and needs to play more controlled and decisive to finish tackles, almost as if he plays too fast to consistently break down. He needs to keep his emotions in check and stay disciplined and play smarter.

Williams suffered a right knee injury in Aug. 2011 and chose to have microfracture surgery in Oct. 2011 to repair the damage, missing almost all of last season and some of the 2012 season.

Analysis

Williams started off his career as more of a rushing DE for the Buckeyes in their "Leo" spot along the defensive line, and became a starter during his sophomore year in 2009. He notched 4.5 sacks in 2010 and was hyped heading into 2011 as a senior. But he injured his knee during the 1st game and underwent surgery, missing the rest of 2011 with fears of it ruining his football career. He returned to play in 2012 with an extra year of eligibility and played through the injury while trying to regain his conditioning. Many scouts liked the way he responded in the latter half of the season when he got into better shape, but this signing looks very similar to Michael Mauti - that is - a chance on an ascending player whose career was derailed due to injury. Nathan Williams is not as talented as Mauti, but has to overcome an injury and prove he can return to form all the same.

It's worth mentioning that Williams made a switch to OLB for the 2012 season, a position for which he feels he is more of a natural fit. Prior to the signing of Desmond Bishop, and with Erin Henderson slotted for the middle, OLB was seen as a major need during the offseason, and in some sense, it still is. But with 4th round draft pick Gerald Hodges and veteran Marvin Mitchell and Larry Dean in the mix for OLB duties, he'll have some competition. But, if he can prove his worth on Special Teams as well, anything is possible.

For more on Nathan Williams, check out this pre-draft article where he talks about his rehab and preparation for the NFL Combine. Also, check out these highlight videos:

Nathan Williams vs Penn State (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)

Nathan Williams vs Michigan State (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)

Roderick Williams, CB Alcorn State

Measurables

Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 180
Age: 26
40 Yard Dash: 4.49
Grade: Free Agent
Contract: 3 Years/$1,485,000

CFL Stats - Edmonton Eskimos

Tackles

Sacks

INTs

Forced Fumbles

Fumble Rec.

2010

23

0

1

0

0

2011

44

0

6

0

0

2012

44

0

4

1

2

Positives

From Draft Insider (prior to 2010 Draft):

Fundamentally sound defensive back who helps out on special teams. Fluid pedaling in reverse, smooth turning his hips in transition and works hard to defend the throw. Aggressively works to get off blocks and come up the field to defend the run or screens. Shows a burst to the action out of his plant. Effectively positions himself to defend the throw.

Negatives

From Draft Insider (prior to 2010 Draft):

Undersized and struggles against large opponents. More of a loping runner with built-up speed.

Analysis

With Rod Williams being 3 years removed from NCAA action, there was not much available in the way of scouting reports. At the time, Draft Insider summed up his prospects thusly:

Williams lacks the dimensions to be anything other than a dime back at the next level. His real value to an NFL team will be returning punts.

However, after not being drafted he has been playing in the CFL for the past 3 years, and I compiled his stats above, which are pretty good for the CFL (he ranked 3rd in INTs in 2011 and tied for 8th in 2012). He was named a CFL West Division All-Star in 2011 as well. It's possible that Frazier has a soft spot for the Alcorn State product, as that is where Frazier got his start as a head coach. That said his prospects for making the roster look shaky, despite the departure of Antoine Winfield and some question marks at corner. The team currently has 10 cornerbacks on the roster, 6 who are returning veterans, and 2 more who are veteran free agents. He'll battle against 1st round draft pick Xavier Rhodes as well. While there are certainly some question marks amongst that group, there are 3-4 that are assured roster spots, and there may only be 1 or 2 other spots up for grabs with the likes of Brandon Burton, Bobby Felder, and Marcus Sherels vying for those last spots. Never-the-less, if Roderick Williams can prove his skills can translate over to the NFL, perhaps he could be the surprise of training camp. At the very least, he could be a good prospect for the practice squad.

For more on Rod Williams, check out this very brief write-up from Vikings.com blogger Mike Wobschall. Also, check out these highlight videos:

Rod Williams CB #37 CFL Highlights 2011 Pt. 1 (via RodWilliams37)

Rod Williams CB #37 CFL Highlights 2011 Pt. 2 (via RodWilliams37)

Alcorn State Rod Williams Punt Return (via MIZLADYB06)

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a <em>community</em>, that view is no less important.

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