Jordan Williams, an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee on his third franchise in three NFL seasons, would seem like a long shot to make the New York Giants’ roster as part of a talented, deep defensive line.
Williams, though, has begun to make himself noticed as the Giants prep for the 2017 season. And he has picked up the endorsement of linebacker Jonathan Casillas, the team’s defensive captain in 2016.
“I think the way he’s playing right now he could be a Giant for sure. I would take him on my team if I could decide,” Casillas said on the “Big Blue Chat” podcast.
“The way he plays, last game, and I see him in practice the way he runs to the ball, his skill. He has a great motor. I hope we can keep him.”
Williams has been on the fringes of the NFL for the past two seasons. He spent 2015 on and off the practice squads of the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, appearing in one regular-season game for Miami.
In 2016, he began the season on Miami’s practice squad, got released, was out of the league most of the year and was added to the Giants’ practice squad in December.
In that time he has learned an important lesson. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to figure out the roster permutations and how you make the team. Just go play.
“That’s one thing I learned from my rookie year. There’s things you can’t look at. You never know what they’re doing upstairs, you never know what can happen with injuries. You never know what can happen,” Williams said. “Worrying about things you can’t control is going to get you nowhere. All I can control is going out every day and giving my all, doing the best I can.”
Williams, 6-foot-4 and what he says is just a shade under 290 pounds right now, has a couple of things going for him — other than Casillas’ endorsement, of course.
The Giants list him as a defensive end, but Williams played three years at defensive tackle and only one at defensive end in college. He has done both in the NFL, and seems to have lined up just as much inside with the Giants as he has outside.
“I can bounce between the edge and inside … It’s (his weight) a little light to be in there but if you’ve got technique and some heart it’ll go a long way,” he said. “To me it doesn’t matter. That 3 technique and that end is the same. The only thing is that power. I doubt they’re going to put me in there on the early downs trying to run stop. Rushing from that 3, rushing from that 5 feels about the same.”
Since the Giants like to move defensive ends inside on probable passing downs, Williams seems like a natural fit.
He has one other ace in the hole — long-snapping. Williams is currently listed as the Giants’ backup long-snapper. He works at it every day and while his snaps aren’t as crisp and well-placed as those of veteran snapper Zak DeOssie, in an emergency Williams might be able to answer the call.
“The more you can do, you know,” he said.
Williams has never actually long-snapped in a game, but told me he has been working on that skill since high school.
“My high school coach was like, hey, it’ll get you a job one day. So every day in high school I would warm up with the long snapper,” Williams said. “In college they asked me if I could long snap. I was like, yeah, so I backed up there.”
Can the 24-year-old force his way onto the roster?
“We’ll see,” he said. “All I can control is every day focusing on one day at a time. That’s one thing I got in trouble with my rookie year, trying to count numbers and roster spots and looking at things like that. Then when the roster comes out it’s not what you think it might be. You never know. I leave that to what they do upstairs and do the best I can on the field.
“Y’all guess at the roster every week. Me, I’m just out here focusing on getting better.”
We will just have to see if his best will be good enough.