Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams bonding in the middle of the D-line

Posted May 11, 2013

Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams might be a long way from home, but the defensive tackles the Seahawks selected in the NFL Draft are settling in just fine during the team’s rookie minicamp.

Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill are a long way from home. All of them.

Williams is the 326-pound defensive tackle from the University of Alabama who the Seahawks selected in the fifth round of NFL Draft two weeks ago. But he’s originally from Brisbane, Australia, and made a two-year stop at Arizona Western Community College in Yuma before finding his way to Tuscaloosa.

Hill, meanwhile, is the 303-pound defensive tackle from Penn State who the Seahawks drafted in the third round. He was born in Harrisburg, Penn., and played at Steelton-Highspire High School before moving on to Happy Valley.

But here they are, anchoring the middle of the D-line at the Seahawks’ three-day minicamp that concludes on Sunday with a morning practice, and bonding quickly in the process as roommates for the weekend.

“Jordan is a good guy,” Williams said Saturday when asked about Hill, who he met at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. “We’re sort of bouncing off each other in trying to learn this stuff. We play different positions, but they sort of complement each other, so we’re trying to help out.”

Added Hill, “At the combine, we were talking at 4 in the morning while we were doing one of our testings. We were laughing about that. And Penn State and Alabama in a lot of ways are similar, in the types of programs and how they were run – very old school. So we talk about that, too.”

As for their contributions on the field, Williams has quicker feet than you might expect for a player of his size. He displayed that Saturday by exploding through the line to arrive at running back Derrick Coleman just as he was taking the handoff. Hill has more bulk, especially in his lower body, than advertised. And he flaunted that Saturday by collapsing the intended hole before running back Christine Michael could get to it.

All of this has defensive coordinator Dan Quinn smiling after two practices and a couple of walkthroughs.

“One, they’re willing to do the work and the questions that they ask, it’s exactly what you’re looking for,” Quinn said. “I also like the mindset and the attitude, and you can also see a connection starting between those guys.

“The thing I really like about both of them is their mature approach, exactly like you’d like from your D-tackles. It’s a dirty job, and they accept it.”

Hill was drafted with the idea that he could provide some needed pass-rush from the three-technique spot in the nickel line. Williams was selected because he has the bulk that coach Pete Carroll and Quinn like at that same spot in the base defense. Both those spots are open after Jason Jones and Alan Branch left in free agency.

At this camp, however, it’s been Williams at nose tackle and Hill at the three-technique – or even vice versa – in the middle of the line with the No. 1 defense as Quinn is looking to develop versatility as well as depth.

“We’re going to play them at a couple of different spots and see who can play end, who can play tackle, who can play nose,” Quinn said. “They’ll fill various roles for us. I just want guys to know two or three jobs. That way when it’s time to do that, there’s not that, ‘Well, I haven’t done that before.’

“That adds not only value to you as a player, but really it increases competition across the board.”

Pressure? It’s all relative. You can just imagine what last season was like for Hill at Penn State.

“It helped me grow as a man,” said Hill, who graduated last weekend. “Those are life lessons that I’ll take away for the rest of my life. When I start a family, have kids, I’ll be able to tell them what I’ve been through and it’s a lesson for them, too.”

As for Williams, when the Seahawks made him the 137th pick in the draft, Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard sent him a congratulatory tweet.

“I try not to think about it like that,” Williams said when presented with the carrying-the-hopes-of-a-continent-on-his-broad-shoulders scenario. “It’s good to have the support of my country, especially the prime minister. The government is always good to have on my side if you’re trying to get back in the country.”

Especially when you’re so far away from home and trying to make a new home for yourself.