Leonard Williams Concludes Draft Signing Blitz

Posted May 8, 2015

Jets' Sixth Overall Pick Becomes Sixth and Last Draft Pick to Sign as Rookie Minicamp Begins

The Jets concluded a blizzard of draft choice signings with official word that first-round draft choice Leonard Williams, the sixth overall pick in last week's NFL Draft, has signed with the Green & White.

Williams was the last of our six draft picks to sign, following word that OL Jarvis Harrison (Round 5) had signed Wednesday and then in quick order QB Bryce Petty (Round 4), DT Deon Simon (Round 7) and LB Lorenzo Mauldin (Round 3) had all signed their deals at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Thursday, and WR Devin Smith (Round 2) signed his contract around the same time as Williams early this evening.

The drafting of Williams was hailed as the Jets of general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles adding strength to strength. The Southern Cal defensive end was viewed by many analysts as one of the top three athletes in this year's draft, and in falling to the sixth overall pick, Maccagnan was able to add him to the defensive line that already includes former first-round picks Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson (not to mention sometimes-hand-in-the-dirt LB Quinton Coples) and run-stopping NT Damon Harrison.

"We thought it was a bit of a long shot," Maccagnan said, "but when it kind of presented itself, we basically went back to my simple philosophy, and that was to try to have as many good players in the organization as possible and get the best player available at that point in time, which is what we felt he was."

"You can never have enough D-linemen," Bowles said. "I had a bunch of D-linemen in Dallas when I was there, too, so having a lot of good football players doesn’t matter. I think everyone on the D-line has to learn how to play across the board in our scheme anyway, so having him added to the mix just makes us better."

The sidebars of how the 6'5", 302-pounder has enjoyed skateboarding and the be-flip-flopped beach scene on two coasts, Central Florida and Southern California, and has created ceramic works of art only add to the larger-than-life saga of a still 20-year-old young man who is such a dynamic force on the football field.

"I think my greatest attribute is just having a lot of passion for the game," he said when he met reporters at his new home building. "It makes me push myself to the limit. I have high expectations for myself and I want to reach them and it is all because of my passion for the game."

Williams capped his three USC seasons in 2014 with a career-high 80 tackles, had 7.0 sacks and 9.5 total tackles for loss, grabbed the second interception of his Trojans career, was named team MVP and All-Pac 12 and made two All-America teams.

Now with the signing of his rookie contract, he knows he's fully invested in the next chapter of his football life.

"You meet a lot of guys at the draft. We got to have dinner with a lot of Hall of Famers, and they were giving me a lot of advice. I was just trying to be a sponge and soak up everything they were telling me," he said. "One of the greatest pieces of advice that I heard is that everything leading up to this point doesn’t matter anymore because I’m coming into the league as a rookie and I have to earn my respect all over again."


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