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Is Williams the 1? Anything's possible
It's never bad to be the topic of romantic speculation in the days before the NFL draft. And if the rumor mill is accurate, then the player everyone seems to be falling in love with is North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams.
The Houston Texans are figured to be a lock to select Reggie Bush with the first pick in the draft. Then why have they made overtures to Williams' representatives about whether he would be willing to negotiate a deal and sign it before the draft? Is it merely a pre-emptive strike in the Bush negotiations, a ploy to force a deal? Or could Williams actually be the first player selected?
''You hear everybody talk about Lambeau Field,'' Williams said. ''To go out there and play on that turf ... I feel like if I go there, I just want to listen and learn and fit right into a program.
"I'll do that wherever I go. Whatever they want me to do -- play defensive tackle, lose weight, gain weight -- it really doesn't matter. It's all about the team.''
It's also all about the money positions come draft time, and few are as valued as a pass rusher. The 6-7, 295-pound Williams is the rare physical specimen who not only can rush the passer, but also holds up well against the run. He's a large man with a nasty attitude, and while he might not be the pure speed rusher some imagine him to be after he ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash at the Indianapolis scouting combine, he remains as solid a prospect as there is on the draft board.
"I just do what I do,'' Williams said. "I'm out there and come off the ball -- it's second nature. I can't say I do this or do that, besides maybe knowing the down and distances and being prepared and having an idea in your mind and just coming off and executing what I planned on doing.''
NFL teams value pass rushers the same way they do quarterbacks, left tackles, wide receivers and running backs. It's a skill position to some teams.
"You never have enough of them,'' Carolina Panthers coach John Fox said. "You never stop looking for them.''
"Look at his skills and the other players at the position, and you can easily make an argument that he's the best player on the board,'' one AFC personnel man said.
The Texans hope Reggie Bush is listening.
Fire It Up, Let the engines roll, It's time to burn it down
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