Williams a first-round lock; Others will have to wait

Thursday, April 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma's coaches say Roy Williams broke the mold with his play at strong safety. He may do it again in the NFL draft.

No safety in the past decade has been a top-10 pick, but Williams, who left Oklahoma after his junior season, could end that streak Saturday.

Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. rates Williams No. 6 among all prospects, calling him an ``elite, instinctive, difference-making force.'' Associated Press pro football writer Dave Goldberg projects Williams will be the fifth pick.

``I wouldn't mind being in the top eight, but I'm not picky at all,'' Williams said on the day he announced he was turning pro. ``I just want to play and prove myself.''

His college coach, Bob Stoops, has no doubt Williams will be able to do that.

``He's got the mental maturity to handle the pressures in that league,'' Stoops said. ``He's got the physical ability to play at that level. He is ready for this challenge and he'll be an excellent player in the NFL.''

Williams is one of several Oklahoma players who are likely to have their names called, although they are expected to have to wait much longer than Williams.

Leading that list is linebacker Rocky Calmus, who is projected to go anywhere from the third to fifth round. Calmus was an All-American in college, but there are concerns about his ability to hold up in the NFL at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds.

Former Dallas Cowboys personnel director Gil Brandt, now the NFL's senior draft consultant, rates Calmus as the ninth-best linebacker prospect. Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com has him rated 10th.

But Calmus points to players such as Zac Thomas of the Miami Dolphins and Dat Nguyen of the Dallas Cowboys as examples of linebackers who have succeeded despite draft concerns about their size.

``I think someone's going to steal him,'' said OU co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. ``The kid, he's been successful in all aspects of his life. As a player, he's never not excelled.

``We play against the best competition anywhere in the country and play the best teams, and he's performed admirably against all the best players in our league.''

He said Calmus excelled despite a variety of nagging injuries throughout his career. He also said Calmus knows he must become a more physical player, but that it shouldn't be a tough hurdle.

``I think he's a guy, no matter where he goes, who's going to play for a long, long time,'' Mike Stoops said.

Other Sooners who may be drafted are offensive guards Frank Romero and Howard Duncan; placekicker Tim Duncan; punter Jeff Ferguson, defensive end Corey Heinecke, who is projected as an outside linebacker; outside linebacker Brandon Moore, and H-back/tight end Josh Norman.

At Oklahoma State, linebacker Dwayne Levels and offensive linemen Bryan Phillips and Jeff Machado are draft possibilities.