The Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans are among the teams set to meet with Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson in the coming weeks, a good sign for the rising draft hopes of a prospect once considered on the fringe of NFL interest.
Based on production, it's hard to understand why Williamson wasn't initially more highly regarded. He posted back-to-back 100-tackle seasons in his last two years with the Wildcats as the heart-and-soul performer on a porous defense, including 135 as a junior in 2012. Concerns about his pro potential centered around his speed and quickness, which he answered emphatically with a 40-yard dash of 4.66 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine last month, and a 4.07 20-yard shuttle time that ranked third among all combine linebackers: better than the top two outside linebackers in this year's draft, Buffalo's Khalil Mack and UCLA's Anthony Barr, who are both potential top-10 picks (Mack might even go in the top five).
Not surprisingly, increased interest in Williamson followed.
Along with his three visits to the AFC's Jaguars, Patriots and Titans, jacksonsun.com reports that Williamson has also received strong attention from the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets.
"All those teams said they were impressed with me at the combine, and my agent told me it's a good sign that some teams -- the Titans, Patriots and Jaguars -- are already setting up meetings with me," Williamson said. "I'm going to Nashville to meet with the Titans' people."
Based on NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah's experiences from his scouting days, the Patriots won't be too happy that news of their apparent interest in Williamson is available to opposing clubs, much less in the public arena. But it's not as though Williamson is much of a secret anymore, anyway.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.