Considered a possible first-round pick by some analysts, defensive tackle Jesse Williams might turn out to be the best value of the 2013 draft for the Seattle Seahawks.
And if not, at least he’ll vastly broaden the Seahawks’ fan base.
After the Hawks used a fifth-round pick to take the 323-pound Alabama defensive tackle, a native of Brisbane, Australia, we connected with him via teleconference.
He was first thanked for taking the time to do the interview.
“No worries,” he responded.
He didn’t add a “mate” but still projected that distinctive “Crocodile Dundee” accent, and we may assume the Seahawks’ marketing folks are busily printing up jerseys for distribution Down Under.
“He’s a guy who really will fill a specific role for us,” general manager John Schneider said, citing Williams’ great strength and his ability to pursue opponents down the line.
Williams will be among the strongest Seahawks the minute he steps into the weight room. The story is told that at Alabama he wrote himself into Crimson Tide lore when he banged out a bench-press max of 600 pounds.
Another thing that enhances his upside is that he’s still so new to football. At his best, he fires out low and gets under the pads of blockers and destroys the backfield. Other times, he
stands too high and loses his leverage.
Only six years ago he was hanging out at the beach in Brisbane. For fun he played rugby and basketball, and took up football in his teens.
At 16, he was discovered by coaches from the University of Hawaii when they conducted a clinic in Australia. And eventually he went to a junior college, Arizona Western College, as a stepping stone to Alabama.
In two seasons, he started 26 games and the Tide racked up a pair of national championships, while he earned the menacing nickname “Tha Monstar.”
Improbably fast for his size (4.84 seconds in the 40), as well as being nimble, Williams was used at times as a lead blocker on the goal line, and helped clear the way for an Eddie Lacy touchdown run against Georgia in the Southeastern Conference title game.
Williams had surgery to “clean out” problems with a knee after the season, and that might be the reason he skidded in the draft. He says it was a small matter with no lingering effects.
An eager learner, Williams is quick to point out areas in need of improvement.
“For me, it’s technique,” he said. “I’m pretty raw still. I picked up a lot of skills at Alabama, and (I’m) trying to continue to progress as a football player.”
He’ll be easy to spot around town, as he’s enormous and covered with tattoos, and often sports a mohawk haircut.
At the scouting combine, he explained his tattoos. One, on his head, reads:
“Fear is a liar.”
The message is “about not having fear of failure ... and trying to be the best person I can be. All these tattoos are little reminders of what I’m all about.”
In addition to landing Williams, the Seahawks wrapped up another intriguing draft by adding eight others Saturday. Some had spotty résumés – including two LSU players (cornerback Tharold Simon and running back Spencer Ware) who were suspended for failing drug tests in 2011.
And some were of unusual proportions. Receiver Chris Harper of Kansas State is 6-foot, 234 pounds, roughly the size of their starting middle linebacker. And they picked a tight end (Luke Willson of Rice) who is 6-5 but runs faster than some wide receivers (4.51).
But none has come further, geographically and metaphorically, than Jesse Williams.
“My whole journey, coming from Australia to Arizona, then to Alabama and continuing to Seattle, it’s been sort of a jump,” he said. “(I’ve) been trying to make the most of the opportunities I’ve been given. I try to take it and make the most of it the best I can, (and) to live my life and be the best person I can be.”
Sounds like a sentiment destined to become a tattoo.Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org @DaveBoling