The Cincinnati Bengals are all too familiar with the “getting an extra first-round pick” lifestyle. A considerable portion of the team’s recent injury history involved first-round picks early in their careers.
Last year, Jonah Williams was no exception.
The 2019 NFL Draft’s 11th overall pick missed his entire rookie year with a shoulder injury that originally sent him to Injured Reserve over two months before the start of the season. Judging by what we came to learn about Williams’ work ethic, it was safe to assume he didn’t waste any second of his time spent in recovery.
During his press conference last week, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan talked about how different Williams appears and what that means for him this season.
“What ended up happening with him is he got a year to re-shape his body,” Callahan said. “He looks like a pro, he doesn’t look like a college kid anymore. His build and physique he kind of changed, not completely. But (when) he walked up to get tested when he first got here, I was like, ‘Woo, hey, Jonah it’s good to see you man.’ He worked as hard as anybody last year. He was in every meeting. He was working on his own. He is well prepared to take that spot.”
Per the team’s website, Williams is still listed at 6-4, 305 pounds, but we’d by lying if we didn’t think a few more pounds of muscle found its way onto Williams’ upper body. Considering he was training with former Pro Bowl tackle Joe Staley this offseason, that isn’t by accident.
It was fun to examine a hypothetical of Williams taking over at right tackle earlier this offseason, but a hypothetical was all it was. From the moment he was drafted, Williams has been working towards becoming the Bengals’ left tackle of the future.
That work will soon pay off.