Another promising name on the defensive front is Tennessee's Dan Williams. He comes from good stock, considering the success of UT defensive tackles at the NFL level -- think names like John Henderson and Albert Haynesworth. Then again, Green Bay's still waiting for Justin Harrell to work out. But Williams has turned heads with his impressive size (6'2", 327 lbs.) and impressive career, as he led all SEC d-linemen in tackles with 61.
Here's some Q&A from the Combine with Williams about following in Haynesworth's shoes and whether he feels like the dark horse in this defensive class.
Q: What have you heard about your draft stock?
A: The only thing I can control is what Dan Williams does. I can’t control who ranks who higher or who says who’s better. All I can do is out there and perform. I want to try and have good film for these scouts and GMS to look at and also when Monday comes around perform my best in the 40 and these drills. All I can really do is kind of worry about Dan Williams and how I perform.
A: We kind of touched base on it. He is helping me out now. I do talk to Coach Kiffin a lot and have question about things. But during the season it is more about what we are doing in college. We never got ahead of ourselves and our goal was to make sure Tennessee [was the focus]. He told me after the season we would be able to talk about anything, to call him and ask him anything and he has been true to his world. He has helped me out a lot.
Q: What’s your take on Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy?
A: If you watch those guys on film, they are good players. Those guys do play hard. They are both similar, they are different than me, because I can play nose or 3 technique. But I will say, they are some great athletes. I watched Suh on tape and he is a big explosive guy. They are good football players.
Q: Have you made any strides getting to the quarterback?
A: That was an area I was working on in the spring and summer and that’s the part of the game I always said I was going to improve on. I guess this year it kind of showed up, it might not have shown up in sacks but if you watch film you will see more pressures and hurries and the quarterback got rid of it right before I got there. I worked on it every day to try and improve and I think my work paid off.
Q: Do you feel like you are the dark horse with Suh and McCoy getting so much hype?
A: You always want to show yourself, you want to perform your best. I can’t really control who says who is better. All I can do is perform. If you want to say who is better, you can put Dan Williams’ film against anybody’s film. Look at Suh and McCoy and you tell me who is better. That is my resume and that is what I can go by. So if some guy feels like I am the fifth best DT, I can’t control that. But I know what I put on film and I know how I will perform at the combine.
Q: Are you getting any motivation from Robert Ayers, a former Vol who climbed board last year?
A: I talked to Rob a lot, ask him questions about how the Senior Bowl went and some points and tips about how this combine will go, what to expect and what they are looking at and he will always call and check on me to say, 'How are you feeling?' We have a good relationship and I do kind of look at it like Rob came out of nowhere and I guess he reminds me. He tells me I have to put the work in.
Q: Did you talk to Albert Haynesworth during the summer?
A: He showed me some tips. He kind of helped me out a little bit before the season started.
Q: Did Haynesworth set the bar high for defensive tackles from UT?
A: Haynesworth and John Henderson. We have guys that come out every year. That is part of the reason I went to Tennessee, for the great tradition of defensive tackles. When I first got there, coach Dan Brooks is a great coach and I think he still is producing good products. The prestige of defensive tackles at Tennessee, it’s a long list. One of my goals in going to Tennessee was to add my name to that list.
Q: Do you hold any grudge about Lane Kiffin leaving UT?
A: As a player, and being close to some of the guys that are still there, I can understand why those guys are hurt. But the man got his dream job and I told them if any of you had the opportunity to get your dream job, you would have left too. So I have held no grudges at all.