I suppose you could consider this the first Player X Is Our Future!!! post. When it comes to undrafted free agents, there is occasionally a diamond in the rough that comes out of nowhere to turn into a strong NFL player. More often you get a mix of camp bodies that will not make it through final cuts and others who might snag that 52nd or 53rd roster spot. Ian Williams could be a guy who falls all along that spectrum.
One of the first tweeted tentative agreements Monday night was that of Notre Dame nose tackle Ian Williams. The 6'1, 319 pound behemoth missed the final four games of his senior season with a knee injury and that sent him tumbling out of the draft. Prior to that injury he had not missed a game during his career and looked ready to take a step to the next level.
Shortly before April's NFL Draft, James put together a breakdown of nose tackles and had Williams ranked as his eighth nose tackle. He described him as follows:
The best athleticism of the "lower tier" nose tackles in the draft, there's a lot to like there, especially for the 49ers. He doesn't get after the passer a lot, but he does everything else at a high level. He's a solid anchor who will stop the run every time, and he can occupy two blockers. If Williams gets a good coach and some time to develop, he can be deadly.
If you're looking for some outside perspective, Williams was actually ranked by Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net as one of the ten undrafted free agents to keep an eye on heading into this week:
Williams saw his 2010 campaign cut short and red flags raises after he suffered a knee injury midway through the season. Despite performing well at the combine, he slipped out of the draft's seven rounds. But he has legitimate NFL ability with the potential to play several spots on the defensive line. Rated as a fifth-rounder on many draft boards, Williams could be a steal for any team needing a nose tackle
The 49ers find themselves facing a big situation with the impending free agency of Aubrayo Franklin. If Franklin walks that leaves the 49ers with Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean-Francois and now Ian Williams and Sealver Siliga competing for playing time and roster spots.
What do people expect from Williams? Or is it too soon to tell without further news on Aubrayo Franklin? Or is a signing like this that very "further news" about Aubrayo Franklin? Williams has the bulk but some have said he's a tad short for the position. Considering he's the same height as Aubrayo Franklin I wouldn't concern myself too much with that issue.