This is Edwin Williams, undrafted free agent center out of Maryland, set to take the practice field today as one of the newest members of your Washington Redskins.
With minicamp finally here, I thought it might be interesting to focus on one undrafted guy as he goes through the NFL experience for the first time, from his arrival yesterday through … whatever happens next. As I reviewed the list of undrafted free agents Williams seemed like a good choice for a few reasons:
First, he plays what might be a position of need: center. It is beyond unlikely — just short of impossible, actuallly — that an undrafted guy could unseat starting center Casey Rabach, nor would anyone here want him to. But there’s no firm backup at the position, which creates a perfect opportunity for Williams. He was a three-year starter at Maryland
Second, he’s a local guy — grew up in D.C. and attended DeMatha before heading around the Beltway to College Park — and that always adds intrigue to a prospect.
And third, since he was a two-time Academic All-ACC guy and had all sort of favorable comments about his attitude and leadership in his pre-draft scouting reports, I figured he’d be the kind of guy who had given some thought to his situation and what he needed to do to make the most of it.
That last one turned out to be an understatment — when I talked to him late yesterday, it almost felt as if he was directly responding to his scouting report. Here’s what they had to say about his draft prospects on NFLDraftScout.com:
On a line that was inconsistent for most of 2008, Williams was one of the more dependable starters. He should be one of the first centers taken, though because that position tends to be less desirable than other spots on the line, he may be a later pick than he’d like.
And here’s what Williams said on the subject yesterday: “I was very optimistic but also very realistic. Because, you know, centers don’t really get drafted a lot — last year I think they drafted four centers. I kinda glanced at the draft, but I didn’t really watch it. I’m not really about — I feel like there’s so much hype around it, but you’ve really just got to come in and do your thing.
“So I didn’t really watch too much,” he continued, “but then I would hear through the grapevine that centers were getting picked up, so at that point I was getting a little more optimistic. But at the end of the day, I didn’t get drafted. At the same time, now I have a great opportunity with the Redskins, a lot of teams told me that they wanted me, and now I’m here ready to get started.
“The draft thing was cool, you know? That was a good weekend. But now it’s time to do the real work.”
So why did you choose the Redskins?Williams: “The Redskins had the best offer for me, and I think it was the position for me personally. I live right down the street with my father and their backup center position isn’t very set in stone. So I feel like I can grow here. And their offense here is very similar to the offense we ran at Maryland, so I won’t have a problem learning the offense.
“At the same time, I’ve gotta put the hard work in, do what I’m supposed to do, and fight for a spot. That’s what I’m planning to do over these next couple of months.”
Right down the street? Where are you from?
Williams: “I’m originally from Washington, D.C., but my dad lives right over in Leesburg.”
Were you a Redskins fan growing up?
Williams: “Yeah! The Redskins are the only team that I know. This is my favorite team, and it’s always been. Like I said, I’m excited and happy to be here — there’s so much history, and I want to be a part of it.”
There’s a pretty strong Terrapin presence here, with Stephon Heyer heading into his third year, the drafting of Kevin Barnes, and [fellow undrafted free agent lineman] Scott Burley. Is that something that can help you out?
Williams: “No doubt, no doubt. These are guys that I’ve been around with for many years, guys that I look up to with the utmost respect, and guys I can talk to any time. They’re good guys, and I’m excited to be here with them.”
So what’s your best shot to be here long term? What do you need to show to catch on?
Williams: “The best shot is really just coming to work every day. I’m just gonna keep on working hard, and show my perseverence and ability to learn things quickly, and just try to be above everybody else, doing the extra things. Doing the things I need to do each and every day, and that’s all I can really do personally.”
Was anything particularly surprising on your first day, with the physical, the headshots, all of that?
Williams: “Nothing really surprised me, to be honest. It was kinda like the [NFL Scouting] Combine all over again as far as the physical went. It was somewhat similar to the Combine so it wasn’t like I was shocked. They did take nose swabs for MRSA, which was a little weird.”
[I asked one of the trainers about that later, just because, well, it did sound a little weird, and he looked at me like I was an idiot. “MRSA lives in the nose. You can be a carrier of it, and it lives in your nose,” he said. “Google it.” Learn something new every day, I guess. Until then, I felt smug just because I knew that it stood for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.]
So do you know what to expect from the first day of minicamp?
Williams: “I’ve been talking to Stephon about it, and he just keeps saying, ‘Y’know, it’s like how we did it,’ and I’m just like, ‘No, I need to know exactly how it is. I need to know everything.’ He’s not really telling me too much, so … no, I don’t know much. I got this itinerary, I’m gonna try to study this and get focused for tomorrow, and that’s all I can really do.”
Stephon Heyer and Edwin Williams block for Lance Ball back in 2006.
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