Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams has been a popular mock draft pick for the Bengals early on this draft season.
He was injured for much of his last season at Texas, but returned earlier than expected from the injury and left off just about where he was pre-knee injury. He didn’t play in Texas’ bowl game, but that was just precautionary to stay healthy as more and more college players are now doing as they await the NFL Draft.
Texas OT Connor Williams on his decision to sit out the bowl game. pic.twitter.com/4WzsbqF18N— Rebecca Toback (@Rebecca_Toback) March 1, 2018
In Indianapolis at the NFL Combine, Williams notched 26 reps on the bench press and a 5.05 second 40-yard dash. He also recorded a 34.0” vertical hump, 112” broad jump, 7.83 second 3-cone drill and 4.63 second 20-yard shuttle.
Williams started right away at Texas and was an All-American that season. Before getting injured in 2017 (his junior year) many thought he’d be a top 10 pick in this year’s draft. He’s still a likely first round pick and someone the Bengals are sure to be taking a look at as the draft nears. The team needs an upgrade at the left tackle position and it wouldn’t hurt to add competition at right tackle either. Williams has no experience playing interior line positions, but, he did say he’d be open to it while speaking with the media in Indianapolis.
“Personally, if you asked me, I feel like I’m a tackle, but I’m willing to play anywhere a team needs me,” he said.
Williams ran the fifth fastest 40-yard dash of offensive linemen at the combine, was above average at the bench press, had the best vertical jump and one of the best broad jumps, proving he’s back from his injury and in good shape.
“Once the injury hit, it was all about day-in and day-out recovering and getting back to my full self and getting back to help the team,” Williams said. “After getting a second opinion with Dr. (James) Andrews, it was established that I didn’t need surgery, that the only reason maybe for surgery was the torn meniscus, which I tore early in high school and (it) never gave me any issue. I’d like to not do any surgery. (I was) given a timeframe of 8-10 weeks, I came back in seven, and it was all about getting back to play.”
Williams said it wouldn’t have felt complete if his last play at Texas was the one on which he injured his knee, which is why he made sure to get healthy and return in time for the end of his final collegiate season. As far as what he brings to the NFL, Williams believes his athleticism and ability to move well set him apart from other tackles looking to make their mark in the pros.
“I believe I instill my will,” Williams said. “I’m a finisher and I go to the whistle and at the same time, balance that with athleticism and 100 percent effort and you get somewhere with it.”
As far as what he’s working on between now and the NFL Draft, it’s all about technique for Williams.
“Technique’s something you can always improve on,” he said. “I mean that’s what separates the greats and just something you can always improve on.”
As the Bengals search for upgrades along the offensive line, look for Williams to be someone the team is considering. His 2017 injury seems to be a thing of the past and while the Bengals have been burned by injured rookies with some frequency, it doesn’t seem like Williams’ injury is a real concern as he gets ready to play at the next level.