The Other Overlooked Northern Iowan

Posted Oct 13, 2017

Everyone knows the story of David Johnson, the Northern Iowa running back that lasted until the third round of the 2015 draft before the Cardinals snatched him up. Johnson has proven to be a fantastic small-school find, and now the Cardinals are getting solid production from one of his college teammates. Defensive lineman Xavier Williams left Northern Iowa the same year as Johnson and latched on as an undrafted free agent with the Cardinals.

Everyone knows the story of David Johnson, the Northern Iowa running back that lasted until the third round of the 2015 draft before the Cardinals snatched him up.

Johnson has proven to be a fantastic small-school find, and now the Cardinals are getting solid production from one of his college teammates. Defensive lineman Xavier Williams left Northern Iowa the same year as Johnson and latched on as an undrafted free agent with the Cardinals.

After two years in the background, Williams has made an impact this season, with 10 tackles, a half-sack and three quarterback pressures as a rotational piece. Williams had to share his first career sack with defensive lineman Frostee Rucker a couple weeks ago, but it still meant a lot to him.

“As an undrafted guy you feel like, I don’t want to say people didn’t believe I could play, but you kind of feel overlooked, like people don’t expect much from you,” Williams said. “It’s huge to go out there and show that your team has confidence in you and they will let you play a good number of snaps. They’re not worried about if someone gets hurt. They believe in you if you have to start. All of that is good. The sacks are the icing on the cake.”

Williams has been given an 80.1 grade by Pro Football Focus during his limited snaps, tying him with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for the fifth-highest on the team.

“His stats speak for themselves,” coach Bruce Arians said. “He’s making disruptive plays and earning more playing time.”

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