Texas offensive lineman Connor Williams (55) stares down West Virginia safety Dravon Askew-Henry in Morgantown, W. Va., on Nov. 18, 2017. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

With the NFL on the horizon, Texas’ Connor Williams prepares for his future

Posted February 1st, 2018

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Story highlights
  • Williams, a three-year starter, started 28 games in his Longhorns career before deciding to leave early for the NFL.
  • Most NFL mock drafts peg Williams as a first-round prospect; he's been linked to the Colts, Bengals, Vikings and Chargers.
  • He missed seven games last fall with a knee injury, but returned to play in UT's final two regular-season games.

After three years at Texas, it’s time for Connor Williams to get a job.

The Longhorns’ outgoing left tackle studied both football and finance during his time at Texas and he’s currently focused on finding employment in the former field. Over the next couple of months, Williams will have plenty of job interviews. There also will be a few opportunities to physically hand out his résumé to 32 potential employers.

Then, sometime between April 26 and April 28 — but most likely on April 26 — he’ll land his first post-college job.

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“It has come to a reality that (football) is a job,” Williams told the American-Statesman this week. “It’s probably the most enjoyable job most people have, and so I’m enjoying it.”

Williams, a three-year starter who decided not to return for his senior season, is in the midst of training for the NFL draft. He chose not to play in the Texas Bowl after cutting short his collegiate career on Nov. 27. He moved to Florida at the beginning of the new year.

He’s now training twice a day alongside fellow draft prospects like SMU wide receiver Courtland Sutton at Tony Villani’s XPE Sports in Boca Raton. Additionally, he brought his long-time personal trainer, Bernard Daniel, with him from Texas. Daniel also has worked with Williams’ ex-Coppell teammate, San Francisco 49ers defensive end Solomon Thomas.

Williams will participate in the NFL scouting combine early next month. Leading up to that event, he expects to work on improving his performance in combine-specific drills like the 40-yard dash and the bench press. (Texas’ pro timing day is set for March 28.) Williams will then focus solely on honing his craft as an NFL offensive lineman.

Longhorn linemen in the NFL's past 25 drafts

 YearRoundTeamNotes
Connor Williams20182 (50th overall)Dallas11th OL drafted in 2018
Tony Hills20084 (130)Pittsburgh32 career games, Super Bowl XLIII winner
Justin Blalock20072 (39)Atlanta125 career games (125 starts)
Kasey Studdard20076 (183)Houston25 career games (14 starts)
Jonathan Scott20065 (141)Detroit71 career games (35 starts)
Derrick Dockery20033 (81)Washington141 career games (115 starts)
Mike Williams20021 (4)Buffalo56 starts, 2002 NFL All-Rookie team
Leonard Davis20011 (2)Arizona155 starts, 3 Pro Bowls
Jay Humphrey19994 (125)MinnesotaDNP
Dan Neil19973 (67)Denver104 starts, Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII winner
John Elmore19965 (139)New EnglandDNP
Blake Brockermeyer19951 (29)Carolina103 starts, 1995 NFL All-Rookie team

Most mock drafts have pegged Williams as a first-round pick. He’s been matched with the Colts, who pick third overall. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. thinks Williams would fit in with the Vikings, who draft toward the end of the first round. Several forecasters think Cincinnati will scoop him up with the 12th pick.

“Williams is one of the better pass-protectors to enter the NFL at the left tackle spot over the past few seasons,” said CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso, who mock-drafted Williams for the Los Angeles Chargers (17th overall).

“At his best, Williams is a smooth pass protector … and he gets to the second level in the running game and dominates linebackers,” opined Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo, who tied Williams with the eighth pick belonging to Chicago.

The 6-6, 315-pound Williams started 28 games at Texas. In 2016, the consensus All-American and Outland Trophy semifinalist paved the way for D’Onta Foreman’s 2,000-yard, Doak Walker Award-rushing campaign. Ahead of the 2017 season, Tom Herman even lobbied for Heisman Trophy votes on Williams’ behalf.

In his third game, however, Williams suffered a meniscus tear and sprains of the medial and posterior collateral ligaments in his left knee after teammate Jerrod Heard fell on him in the loss at USC. Williams missed seven games but came back for UT’s final regular-season contests against West Virginia and Texas Tech.

During his rehab, Williams heard varying opinions about whether he should play again for the Longhorns or start focusing on his future. Teammate Chris Warren III even told reporters after Williams’ return that he would not have made the same call.

“Ultimately, it was looking back at the USC game and if that was my last play as a Texas Longhorn, then it felt incomplete,” Williams said. “I owed it to my team to come back so we could finish the right way and get the team to a bowl game, which we hadn’t done in the past three years.”

As for that knee, Williams says it’s fine. Don’t believe him. Just look at the tape (or Twitter).

On Tuesday, Williams posted a tweet of him dunking a basketball. Late in the game at West Virginia, cameras also caught him dancing on the sidelines.

“It’s not even close to an issue anymore,” Williams said. “It’s nothing I even think about.”

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