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Duke Williams: I'm a first-rounder; my character is seventh round

INDIANAPOLIS -- Duke Williams was on a path not long ago to be one of the most talked about wide receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine this week. He will leave Indy in a few days having accomplished just that.

But not in the way he -- and many others -- had hoped.

"I'm a first-round pick no matter what," Williams said Thursday, "but off the field I'm a seventh-round pick. My character is seventh round."

Maybe worse.

Last October, Williams was dismissed from the Auburn football team for his involvement in a club fight -- the last in a series of suspensions and rules violations at the school. On Thursday, he appeared contrite, saying he "cried night after night" following the dismissal, got counseling for his "attitude," and is now paying a deep price, losing potentially millions in decreased draft stock.

Despite all of the issues, he was still invited to the combine because his on-field talent is undeniable. In fact, Williams said he hasn't talked much football with the NFL teams he's met with over the last two days. "All about character," he said.

He entered the 2015 season as one of the country's top wide receiver threats, in a small group that included Corey Coleman and Laquon Treadwell, players considered the top wideouts in Indy this week. By season's end he had hurt not only himself, but everyone around him.

"I hurt my family, my friends, my teammates, my coaches who gave me chance after chance," he said. "I regret the fight. (Coach Gus) Malzahn, he gave me chance after chance. It's not his fault. It's my fault because I should've learned. He took a chance on me. And I hurt the Auburn family by getting dismissed."

It's refreshing to hear a player with a troubled past completely own it at this event. It doesn't happen often, and Williams seems to get that transparency is the only way to go.

That's a good first step in repairing his damaged draft stock.

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