Jason Williams is going to earn his wings before the NFL draft. Maybe he'll even score a free future ticket.
The Western Illinois linebacker is one of the hottest risers with just three weeks to go as he crisscrosses the country getting in 10 pre-draft visits. That is more than any other player we've heard of to this point as the visit season cranks up with teams whittling down their draft boards.
Williams will travel or has already traveled to meet with Cleveland, Dallas, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Tennessee. Using the handy Air Miles chart on page 216 of the Bears media guide, that's 13,332 flown miles. Teams want to give Williams a physical and get a better chance to know him.
The DuSable graduate started getting traction when he performed well at the East-West Shrine Game and then turned heads at his pro day March 4 when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds with 14 teams in attendance. That was on a basketball-court surface though and there were some questions for a guy who is 6-1, 241 pounds. Some didn't believe he was that fast. Try faster. Any of those questions were answered when he showed up March 12 at Northwestern's pro day and ran again. This time, on a slow FieldTurf surface, he clocked in between 4.42 and 4.48 seconds according to scouts we polled at the event. The interest only grew.
Now, a guy who was not invited to the combine could come off the board as early as the third round. What is boosting him is teams that run 4-3 and 3-4 schemes are interested. He's got instincts, tackles well in space and is smart. We spotted Bucs linebackers coach Joe Barry at Northwestern where 17 teams were represented with some scouts saying they were there for the sole purpose of watching Williams. Philadelphia is also believed to be interested as NFL.com reported that Eagles linebackers coach Bill Shuey was in Evanston. When more than one-third of the league is checking you out, something good is bound to happen.