(Editor's Note: With the offseason program in the rearview mirror, it's time to look ahead. As part of the preparation for training camp, this series will introduce 25 key players who are new to the Cowboys' roster, rookies and veterans alike. We'll continue with rookie defensive end Sam Williams.)
How He Got Here: It's rare that a player not projected in the first round is linked to an NFL team before the draft. But for some reason, Williams was on the Cowboys' radar for a while. Whether it was his Top 30 visit in the spring, his workout out at Ole Miss that included coaches Mike McCarthy and Dan Quinn, or maybe his first introduction to Jerry Jones at an awards banquet, but it was clear there was mutual interest between the Cowboys and Williams. And sure enough, in the second round of the draft, the Cowboys drafted the Ole Miss pass rusher, who had 11 sacks last season for the Rebels. There are some off-the-field concerns, which might have kept other teams away but the Cowboys are confident in their homework of Williams that is ready for the next level and could possibly be the next great defensive player on this squad.
What's Next: The Cowboys have confidence in Dan Quinn to put these pieces in the right place. He did it well last year, especially with Micah Parsons playing all over the field. Now, Williams isn't ready to be compared to Parsons, but there's a chance that he could line up in multiple positions. Williams rushed off the edge quite a bit in college, but he's got the size and speed to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. He even had some rush attempts in the middle of the line, something we saw a lot from Parsons last year. Now, the transition to the NFL game is going to take some time for Williams, but if the Cowboys can find some roles for him early, he might be a player that contributes sooner than later.
Bet You Didn't Know: The 2016 football season – the same year Dak and Zeke were drafted by the Cowboys – was the first year Williams actually played any organized football. As a senior in Montgomery, Ala., Williams went out for the football team on defense. Although he was a "no-star" recruit, Williams made enough plays to garner some attention at the JUCO level, before eventually transferring to Ole Miss.
Quotable: ""This kid had one of the most productive seasons of anybody in the country. Really unique skills and you can see the size-speed ratio is off the charts. Hardly anybody ever that size ran at that time (4.47). I think, put in the right program, he'll so special things." – Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin on the Rich Eisen Show.