Coming from a small school such as Samford, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie defensive end Nick Williams was probably taken back a bit at first by the quality of players that he is currently going up against in the first few OTA sessions. However, so far, he doesn\’t seem to be overwhelmed by it at all.
David Todd of 970 ESPN Radio caught up with the Steelers seventh-round draft pick Tuesday after practice and asked Williams what he sees as the biggest difference from playing at Samford.
“Just the speed of the game and I\’m sure that sounds cliché,” said Williams, who didn\’t take up the game of football until his senior year of high school. “Everybody says it, but it truly is the speed of the game. If you catch onto that speed, and if you\’re able to move with it, you\’ll do a lot of great things.”
Williams played defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense while at Samford and he talked Tuesday about the task of now having to forget everything that he\’s learned up until this point as he begins the process of becoming a 3-4 defensive end for the Steelers.
“We ran a 4-3 in college, a base 4-3, and coming to a 3-4; it\’s like you\’re starting all the way back over again,” said Williams. “So you got to forget everything in the 4-3 and learn the 3-4 D-end, so it\’s just a process.”
The process that Williams is talking about will more than likely take around two seasons judging by the comments made by Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell following the selection of his newest project.
“He is probably not going to play,” said Mitchell back in April. “He is a project. But you can’t get guys that are 6’4” 320 pounds that can run and look like a guy that is 310 pounds. I like this guy. He didn’t dominate right there in Samford. He only started two years there, but I think his football is ahead of him rather than behind him.”
Mitchell also said on draft day that Williams is a smart player and that him being around other good football players will certainly help in his development. One of those players who is already helping out Williams is veteran defensive end Brett Keisel.
“Yes, he\’s imparting a lot of knowledge, and he has a lot of it to impart,” said Williams about Keisel. “Just telling us to not get discouraged, just come out everyday and work at it.”
Williams, who says his daily process begins with him coming in at 7 a.m. to lift weights with the other rookies, was spotted sidelined last week with a wrap around his mid-section, but the defensive end said Tuesday it\’s nothing serious.
“I\’m doing good,” said Williams about his health status. “Had an occurrence in the weight room one morning, and it\’s getting better.”