Sunday, April 25, 2004

Bengals get ton of talent in pick

Safety Madieu Williams

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Madieu Williams was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and didn't move to the United States until he was 9 years old.

R1: RB Chris Perry
R2: CB Keiwan Ratliff
R2: FS Madieu Williams
R3: LB Caleb Miller
R3: LB Landon Johnson

He didn't start playing football until he was 10 with the neighborhood kids in Seabrook, Md.

Williams is a fast learner. Saturday night, the Bengals used their No. 56 trade - the one they received from New England in exchange for Corey Dillon - to select Williams in the NFL draft.

Williams, 23, is expected to challenge for the nickel back role on the Bengals' defense as a rookie.

"He has a ton of talent. We like his versatility," Bengals defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. "He's good in run support. He's good in coverage."

Williams played on the South team in the Senior Bowl. The Bengals staff coached the North team and was permitted time to interview South players, and Frazier said that coaches were able to get to know him.

Williams agreed.

"I realized this coaching staff is all about winning," he said. "They are definitely on the rise as an up-and-coming team. They have made some serious strides."

Frazier and coach Marvin Lewis both took notice of Williams while they were in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl all-star game.

"He's a playmaker," Frazier said. "He's intelligent. He has good social skills. He fits what we're trying to do."

Said Williams, "I used the Senior Bowl as a showcase. A lot of coaches and general managers had never seen me play, so I definitely gave them every opportunity."

Williams has made rapid improvement as a football player and is known as a willing student.

He was small, about 160 pounds, coming out of high school and started his college career at Towson University. After two seasons, he transferred to Maryland and sat out a season. But he started all 14 games as a junior and all 13 as a senior, improving his statistics in a more competitive ACC.

Williams had seven interceptions in two seasons for the Terps and made 166 tackles. He can play both safety positions and can even line up at cornerback, though the Bengals say they want Williams to concentrate on playing safety.

Williams joins a suddenly crowded safety field. Veterans Kim Herring - a veteran signed as a free agent in March - and Rogers Beckett are expected to start at free and strong safety. Then there is converted cornerback Kevin Kaesviharn, whom the Bengals re-signed as a restricted free agent. Third-year player Marquand Manuel will be coming back from a season in which he was slowed by a hamstring injury.

"We're going to have a lot of competition back there, which is good," Frazier said.

Madieu Williams, FS, Maryland

Height, weight: 6-0, 190

DOB: 10/18/81

2003 stats: 86 tackles, three interceptions, one fumble recovery, 13 starts in 13 games.

2004 projection: Will challenge for playing time as the fifth defensive back.

Personal: Born in Sierra Leone, West Africa; moved to United States at age 9, started college career at Towson University and played two seasons before transferring to Maryland.



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