Party cut short as NFL awaits

THERE will be no extended holiday for Jesse Williams, no end-of-season jaunt to drink cocktails and dance on what would need to be sturdy tables in Cancun. Adulation for his conquest of college football will be short and sweet.

For the Alabama star, who helped the Crimson Tide crush Notre Dame in the college national championship game this week, the first day of the rest of his life began the moment the final whistle was blown at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

Life at the Bayside Ravens in Brisbane, where the 193-centimetre, 145-kilogram giant first started playing American football at 14, will soon be a world away, if it wasn’t already. Williams is destined to be part of a life where salaries are counted in tens of millions and the pressure to deliver is just as exorbitant.

The nose tackle has been tipped to go in the first round of April’s NFL draft but it is hardly a matter of picking a suit, donning the team cap, posing for photos and watching money roll in.

Between now and then, Williams will undergo the kind of scrutiny, both physically and mentally, that would terrify most footballers in this country. He will be poked, prodded, pinched, tested, interrogated and turned inside-out – all in the public eye – before franchises decide whether to invest in his services.

There are decisions to be made. Before next month’s NFL Scouting Combine, Williams will make one of the most crucial choices of his career. He will choose an agent.

”Agents will come to him and offer their services and bring a package to how that agency is going to get him drafted higher, therefore more money,” said former Green Bay punter Nathan Chapman from Prokick Australia, which helps groom kickers for NFL and college careers.

Williams will be asking not what the ”Monstar” can do for agents but what agents can do for him. Putting himself into the first-round discussion gives him bargaining power in line with his potential career earnings.

But to earn a fat contract, Williams must slay the drills at the Combine, a nationally televised week-long camp in Indianapolis where prospects must excel in a variety of physical and psychological examinations.

Already expected to smash the Combine’s bench-press record by lifting 100kg about 55 or 60 times, Williams enters the week with heavy expectations on his brute strength but will be keen to elaborate on his other skills.

”At the testing days, especially the NFL Combine, your whole world pretty much comes down to how well you do in those tests … how many times you bench-press 100kg, how fast you run the 40 yards, what’s your vertical jump like, how you move through a series of agility tests,” Chapman said. ”If he runs a good time, his stocks go higher.”

The physical tests are just a part of the checklist. During the Combine, every team will have the opportunity to ask him questions, while Williams will also take an IQ quiz. Mock drafts have placed Williams as high as 14th, while some still have him going in the second round.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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