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Cowboys' second-rounder Sam Williams is Dan Quinn's latest project

After eyeing him during the draft process, Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn got his man with second-round defensive end Sam Williams.
Credit: AP
Defensive lineman Sam Williams runs a football drill at the Mississippi Pro Day in Oxford, Miss., Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

DALLAS — Dan Quinn knew when he left the Ole Miss pro day on March 23 he wanted to coach defensive end Sam Williams.

Quinn was already scheming up ways to use Williams and relayed to coach Mike McCarthy that he wanted a chance to add the 6’-4”, 265-pound edge rusher.

Williams could also feel the connection and admiration Quinn and defensive line coach Aden Durde had for him, and it was partially why he intentionally missed his flight to stay longer at The Star during his official visit leading up to the 2022 NFL draft.

"It was just different," Williams told reporters at rookie minicamp on May 13. "When I came here, I told them I was going to miss my flight on purpose so I wouldn’t have to leave. It’s just a connection that I can’t explain."

Williams has had a positive entry into the Cowboys' initial program for rookies with the coaching staff, "teaching and amping us at the same time.”

"You can’t experience anything better than that," said Williams.

With Williams under contract and in the building, Quinn is ascertaining the best ways to feature Williams' strengths in the Cowboys' defense.

"I think that’s kind of what these first three days are about is to find unique traits and then it’s up to us to find the traits that a player has," said Quinn. "OK, this is how we feature him. So, to me, the evaluation is now and then it goes in through the OTAs and then there’s another part of it that goes into camp. But one thing that we do know for sure, where there’s speed and there’s explosiveness and there’s get-off, all of the things that you look for in a rush."

Williams isn't focusing on what his role will be; the Mobile, Ala., native is concentrating on learning the defense.

"We’re in the process of learning," said Williams. "I can’t get a role if I don’t know what to do.”

Quinn spent time with former 2021 first-round linebacker Micah Parsons to develop him into a super weapon for Dallas' defense, leading to an NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award. With Williams being the Cowboys' highest drafted defensive player at No. 56 overall in Round 2, he is Quinn's next project.

As Williams works with Quinn, Durde, and the rest of the Cowboys' defensive staff, there is a feeling of déjà vu.

Do you think Sam Williams will become another Dan Quinn success story? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane

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