There will be a lot more eyes on the Cincinnati Bengals this season. That comes with the territory after the drafting of a charismatic playmaker such as Joe Burrow, In fact, Burrow and the Bengals may as well be synonymous as far as the national media and casual fans are concerned.
Keeping Burrow upright will be crucial, which is where 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams comes in.
Williams has already played on some pretty big stages. As the left tackle for Alabama, he helped them win a national title in 2018 and reach another in 2019. He knows all about playing under the lights, but things will get even brighter in the NFL. Williams knows that, and he is making his goal for 2020 a very solid one.
“My goal is not to play or feel like a rookie when I go out there,” Williams told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “If I can take little bits of information and kind of become experienced vicariously, that’s the best way for me to be prepared.”
That goal seems very attainable given how much Williams prepares off the field as well as on it. To bolster his training, Williams enlisted the help of recently retired Pro Bowl left tackle, Joe Staley. The two have been working out together this offseason, and it has appeared to really boost Williams’ confidence going into his actual first season.
“It’s a huge benefit for me. Joe’s a guy I like to model my game after,” Williams said. “Joe’s extremely athletic but he’s also extremely technical and a very smart player. That’s kind of the tact I like to take. Just being the most prepared guy out there. There’s a lot of nuggets out there that I can take from him and be able to combine them with [offensive line] coach [Jim] Turner’s coaching and then hear it from Joe.
‘“This is what you have to be wary of when you do this,’ or anything he tells me he’s probably experienced in a game 100 times.”
There may not be a more perfect mentor for Williams than Staley. The two are very similar athletes at similar sizes. The perceived shortcomings Williams was labeled with as a prospect mirror what Staley had to overcome as a successful blindside protector. Who better for Williams to learn from than the player he best compares to on the high-end of possible outcomes?
Williams genuinely feels like one of those players that fans will be proud to have on their team for years to come. He doesn’t make excuses, he works as hard as anyone and he is quick to spread the praise around the team. Him embracing the fact that he will have a little added pressure of protecting Burrow during his first year being able to play just solidifies the fact Cincinnati nailed their first pick in the past two drafts.