Brandon Williams knows he could have a big opportunity in front of him next season.
The 2013 third-round pick had a limited role as a rookie, but he could see a significant upgrade in playing time next year as the Ravens undergo some changes along their defensive front.
Defensive linemen Arthur Jones and Terrence Cody are both free agents, and the Ravens will likely look to Williams to fill the void if they end up departing.
"That's what they brought me here for," Williams said. "Hopefully Art is still here, but if not, then I'm ready."
Williams saw action in six games as a rookie, as he finished the season with five tackles and one sack.
Williams, 6-foot-1, 331 pounds, is a natural at nose tackle, but he was stuck behind three-time Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata and ended up seeing just 93 defensive snaps last year. With veterans like Jones, Cody, Ngata and Chris Canty already ahead of him on the defensive line, the game action for Williams was limited and he had to show the coaching staff his potential in practice.
"Brandon Williams should be in the rotation at least as a defensive tackle," Head Coach John Harbaugh said in the season-review press conference. "He proved that he can play. We had a lot of depth there this year. He had a little maturing to do, and he should be in the mix."
Williams has a steep climb to make after the Ravens drafted him with the No. 94 pick. Williams entered the NFL as a small-school prospect out of Missouri Southern State. He had dominated at the Division II level in college, but the competition in the NFL was a significant upgrade.
The transition became even more difficult when Williams suffered a foot injury at the end of the preseason, forcing him to miss the first three games of the regular season.
"Obviously the foot injury set me back a little bit, but I thought I came back to play pretty well," Williams said. "I felt pretty good. I feel like I definitely progressed."
The offseason program will be important for Williams, and he plans to be back in Baltimore when the Ravens begin voluntary workouts in April.
"I will leave no stone unturned," Williams said. "I have to take a week or two off, then get back at it, starting with cardio, and getting my body at its peak before training camp, OTAs and when workouts start again."