(Editor's Note: While the start of the 2022 NFL Draft isn't until late-April, it's never too early to profile some of the key participants. The staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of the draft's top prospects, with an emphasis on possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today's featured player is Ole Miss defensive end Sam Williams.)
Name: Sam Williams
- Position: DE
- College: Ole Miss
- Height/Weight: 6'3/261
- Did You Know: Williams posted 12.5 sacks during Ole Miss' 10-win 2021 season, breaking a school record that had stood for 31 years by more than two sacks.
Where He's Projected:
This is a crowded edge rusher class, but even still Williams has the talent to stand out. He's not widely seen as a first-round prospect, but his impressive athleticism (a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 36-inch vertical) combined with his game tape figure to make him a Top 100 pick. There are some issues teams will have to parse through. Williams was suspended by Ole Miss in 2020 after an arrest for felony sexual battery, though the charges were dropped and he was reinstated to the program. Even still, it's something he's likely been asked a lot about during the draft cycle. All of that leads most analysts to conclude that Williams will hear his name called somewhere on Day 2 – potentially as high as the second round.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
Even with the addition of Dante Fowler Jr. and the decision to re-sign Dorance Armstrong, this is a roster that could use some juice on the edge. DeMarcus Lawrence is now on a two-year deal, and the Cowboys don't intend to make Micah Parsons a full-time edge rusher. Williams is one of a handful of athletes in this class with the explosive athleticism that gives him potential as a productive NFL pass rusher. The fact that he wouldn't need to start right away makes him more appealing on this roster. It seems obvious that the Cowboys themselves agree. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn traveled to Oxford, Miss., to work Williams out at his Pro Day, and Williams said that same day that he had talked to Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones about potentially being drafted.
Kyle Youmans' Report: Three-year star on the Ole Miss defense, Williams overcame a rough background and little recruiting attention out of high school to become one of the most feared defenders in the SEC. His 6-foot-3 frame and long arms are ideal for the position while he showcases 4.46 speed and overall athleticism off the edge. Earned first team All-SEC honors in his final year and as his off the field worries have been resolved, he continues to shoot up draft boards as an immediate contributor in the league.