Brandon Williams has heard the talk about small-school prospects struggling to make the jump to the NFL. The nose tackle out of Division II Missouri Southern State knows there are doubts about whether he can succeed at the professional level, especially early in his career.
But at this weekend's minicamp, Williams made it clear that he has high expectations for his rookie season.
When asked by a reporter if he could make an immediate impact on the defense, Williams confidently responded, "Yes. Yes."
"I'm driven and motivated to give 100 percent every day, and work harder than the next person and person in front of me just to contribute and be a part of the team and help in any way I can," Williams said.
Williams, the Ravens' 2013 third-round draft pick (No. 94), was the first non-Division I player taken in this year's draft. As a small-school prospect, Williams primarily flew under the radar during the pre-draft process and feels like he has something to prove.
"I definitely got a huge chip on my shoulder coming from DII, and it's just that much more of a challenge," Williams said. "I'm ready for the challenge. I'm up for the challenge, just to get out here and show everybody that, yeah I'm from DII, but I can still play."
He dominated the small-school ranks during his four years in college, racking up 182 tackles and 25 sacks in 41 games.
Williams caught the attention of the Baltimore scouts during the week of practice at the Senior Bowl, where he held his own against some of the country's top college talent. He's now joining a locker room full of college All-Americans from some of the country's top programs like Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon, Texas and Florida.
At this point, however, Williams stressed that it doesn't matter what path his fellow teammates took to get to this point.
"I'm here," Williams said. "I'm in a Baltimore jersey right now and playing with all you guys, DI, wherever you're from. I'm going to play as hard as you, better than you, and I'm here to stay."
Williams, 6-foot-1, 335 pounds, is most likely projected as a nose tackle in the Ravens'3-4 defensive scheme. He'll compete with fourth-year veteran Terrence Cody for a starting job.
"I love it," Williams said. "It's great being here competing. He'll make me better, I'll make him better, it's just a team thing and a D-line thing. We both can feed off each other's energy and play."