Saturday night's intrasquad scrimmage will offer an opportunity for several undrafted rookies to heighten their bids to make the Jaguars roster. Leading the way is defensive end Julius Williams.
"He finishes plays," Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith said of Williams, who was an immediate hit in spring practices and carried that over into the first week of training camp. "He certainly shows that he has linebacker history. He's such a competitive guy."
Williams is an eye-popping physical specimen who has drawn comparison to Steelers linebacker James Harrison, last year's NFL defensive player of the year. Just as Harrison came into the league as an undrafted player, so did Williams. Why?
"That was the most devastating day of my life," Williams said of watching the rounds of the draft pass without being selected. "It's a blessing to even be here, period."
At 6-2, 260, he was likely judged to be too small to play defensive end. All of the 3-4 teams were interested in signing Williams as an undrafted player, but as a pass-rush specialist. He's the classic tweener: too small to play end, not mobile enough to play linebacker.
Yeah, and how many of those tweeners have turned into stars?
"We just figured this was the best spot," Williams said of signing with the Jaguars, a 4-3 team with a distinct need for a pass-rusher.
"I think I've showed people I can rush the passer and play the run," Williams said of what he's accomplished with the Jaguars to date. "Basically, I'm a football player."
No one would dispute that claim.
Williams leads a group of undrafted rookies that's a good bet to produce the most to make the final roster in Jaguars history. Linebacker Russell Allen, defensive end Jeremy Navarre, fullback Brock Bolen, center Cecil Newton, defensive backs Pete Ittersagen and Michael Desormeaux, wide receivers Todd Peterson and Clarence Denmark and tight end Tyler Lorenzen are all in the hunt for roster or practice squad consideration.
Who will jump out of the pack in Saturday's scrimmage?