In his 26 years of coaching in the NFL, Gregg Williams has never had the opportunity he'll receive next week.
That's why the new Browns defensive coordinator was so thrilled at the prospect of coaching the South team in the 2017 Senior Bowl. For the longtime coach, it's a hands-on experience that can't be quantified or compared to evaluating a prospect's college tape.
"I am excited because I have researched how many picks we have, cap space, all that kind of stuff and so it is important to get a feel for them," Williams said Thursday. "If they are going to ask me my opinion of a guy, then I have to put my hands on him, so this is really cool. You know what, as long as I put my hands on those guys, I am not going to watch any of their college film. I do not need to."
Williams and the entire Browns coaching staff will arrive in Mobile, Alabama, on Sunday and hit the practice field Tuesday. They'll conduct three practices with some of the nation's top prospects before Saturday's game, which can be seen on NFL Network.
Williams will do so with a new-look defensive staff. Four hires -- defensive line coach Clyde Simmons, linebackers coach Blake Williams, defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker and assistant defensive backs coach Jerod Kruse -- were announced shortly before his introductory press conference.
Williams said the preparation for how next week's practices will look has taken up a big chunk of his first week on the job.
"I do not need to watch them once I get a chance to coach them, so this is fun," Williams said. "I am really looking forward to getting some evaluation on these guys. Every day is an interview, we will see how well they interview."
A number of Cleveland's draft picks in recent years played in the Senior Bowl, and odds are a handful of players from this year's game will land with the Browns in a few months. Cleveland holds the No. 1 overall pick, the 12th pick and a total of five picks in the top 65.
The proliferation of fast-paced, spread offenses at the college level has made the evaluation process even trickier for scouts and coaches, Williams said.
"Defensively, some of these guys have not had the opportunity to have some of the gang blocking schemes they have on them, some of the physical downhill type movements on them up on the front on the line of scrimmage," Williams said. "But how do you change the line of scrimmage? And if you can't change the line of scrimmage, you are going to have a tough time playing offense or defense if you can't do that. It is that simple. Take a look at all the sideways teams in college football now. All the sideways team in high school football now. We have to get them going that direction, Hue wants them going the other direction."