INDIANAPOLIS -– Raiders fans will be disappointed to hear Leonard Williams hopes to be the No. 1 overall draft pick. They’d certainly like USC’s star defensive lineman to last until the Raiders select at No. 4.
Some advice: Don’t hold your breath.
Many consider Williams the draft’s best prospect regardless of position, meaning he shouldn’t last long. Quarterback might be a requirement for Tampa Bay at No. 1, but Tennessee and Jacksonville could certainly swoop him up second or third.
And for good reason.
Williams is a physical freak at 6-foot-5 and 302 pounds. He has long arms, huge hands and awesome functional strength and agility. That led to dominant showings at USC despite being using relatively raw technique.
He had 80 tackles, seven sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss in 2014. In three seasons, Williams had 218 tackles, 21 sacks, 36.5 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles and two interceptions.
The Raiders might get as lucky as they did last year with Khalil Mack, when an elite prospect fell to them at No. 5.
Williams wants to go as high as possible, but falling to Oakland wouldn’t be a bad thing.
“I was born in (Bakersfield),” Williams said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Even though I grew up in Florida, I came back to California. The Raiders have kind of been one of my hometown favorite teams. I love their colors. I love their tradition. I love their defense and a lot of things about it. At the same time, I want to go as high as possible.
“I’m shooting for that No. 1 spot. But if I do end up dropping to the Raiders, I would love to play for them.”
That isn’t news. Williams said that publicly after declaring for the NFL draft, and doctored an Instagram photo to make it look like he was in a Raiders uniform. That would delight Raider Nation and the marketing department, who could easily promote a mauler who wanted to be a Raider.
Williams could play defensive end or along the interior line, making him dangerous from several techniques and would pair well with Mack.
He makes a solid first impression as well. He spent 15 minutes with the media this week, and had reporters eating from his hand.
He talked about being too big to play Pop Warner football, missing the weight limit by a whopping 30 pounds as a 210-pound middle school kid.
He cited family for his decision to go pro early, and said his first big purchase would be buying his mother a house.
“My mom was a strong single parent,” Williams said. “She took care of five children who were all my size so I’m sure it was hard for her to put a lot of food on the table. She’s a strong woman so hopefully one day I’ll be able to repay her.”