Cardinals draft CB Williams in 3rd round
TEMPE — Brandon Williams switched from running back to cornerback at Texas A&M just last June. Now he’s headed to the NFL as the third-round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals.
“I didn’t think I was going to be drafted this early,” he said by telephone from the Texas A&M locker room, where he’d watched the draft because he didn’t have cable television in his apartment. “I’m just really overwhelmed right now, happy. It don’t even feel real, to be honest with you.”
The pick, the 92nd overall, was the only one the Cardinals had in Friday’s second day of the draft.
The Cardinals had no second-round pick. It was sent to New England as part of the trade that brought outside linebacker Chandler Jones to Arizona.
The Cardinals say Williams is 6 feet tall, weighs 200 pounds and is very fast.
“He’s a little raw, but the physical tools are off the charts,” general manager Steve Keim said, “and the passion and love for the game is off the charts, so if I’m betting on one, this is the guy I’m getting excited about.”
The third round has been kind to Arizona in recent years, yielding Tyrann Mathieu, John Brown and David Johnson.
Williams was one of the most sought running back prospects in the country out of high school. He played one season at Oklahoma, where he was a teammate of current Cardinal safety Tony Jefferson, before transferring to Texas A&M.
While he has some learning to do at cornerback, Williams is expected to contribute right away elsewhere.
Coach Bruce Arians called him “one of the best special teams players in the country.”
At Texas A&M, Williams’ defensive coordinator was John Chavis, who coached Mathieu and Patrick Peterson at LSU.
Williams said he met with Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin after spring practice and was told the coaches wanted him to switch to cornerback.
“The only words I really heard was ‘compete’ and ‘start,’” Williams said. “We were running back by committee, so I wanted to start, really have an impact on the team some way, somehow.”
Like a large share of the players that the Cardinals have drafted under Keim, Williams was a team captain. He had 37 tackles, seven passes defensed and no interceptions.
Williams said he’s confident he can adjust to playing cornerback in the NFL.
“I’m not concerned at all,” he said, “because I know how much work I’m going to put into it. I know I’m willing to do things that most dudes aren’t willing to do.”
Earlier Friday, the Cardinals introduced first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche.
The big defensive lineman slipped to No. 29 in the draft largely because of a December incident when he broke through a hotel window and fell 15 feet. Marijuana was found in the room and Nkemdiche was arrested.
He has repeatedly apologized and said he doesn’t have “issues off the field.”
“I’m a very straightforward person. I’m a good person off the field,” he said at the news conference at the Cardinals’ facility. “I hate that perception was even created, because that’s not who I am. I made a mistake and I’m moving forward from it.”
Nkemdiche has had a talk with Mathieu, who went through marijuana issues of his own but has thrived in the NFL.
He said Mathieu told him “everything’s up to you at the end of the day.”
“He just kind of said there are some things you’ve got to sacrifice, and ‘I want dogs here but no egos,’” Nkemdiche said. “... and that’s what I am, a dog with no ego.”
Nkemdiche went to Mississippi and was a teammate of Laremy Tunsil, who created a stir when said after he was drafted Thursday night that he was given money by the coach there.
Asked if he also received some, Nkemdiche said, “No sir, No sir.”