LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Playing one linebacker down from a full complement of bodies at the position, the Chicago Bears claimed former 2011 seventh-round pick Jabara Williams on Thursday off waivers from the St. Louis Rams.
But don't look into the move as a simple waiver claim. The team actually sees something in Williams, who fits the mold of the run-and-hit type of linebackers coveted in the club's defensive scheme.
"[We] did a lot of work on him leading up to the draft, coming out of Stephen F. Austin; a great player from my area back home [in Texas]," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "So we had a chance to get him."
Williams played in two games for St. Louis before the club decided to release him, but the linebacker was on Chicago's radar even after he was drafted by the Rams. With the team looking to add to the position back in early September, general manager Jerry Angelo cued up game tape of Williams on a screen in his office at Halas Hall, optimistically anticipating the linebacker's potential availability.
Obviously, the Bears couldn't consummate a move until the Rams released him.
As a 21-year old senior at Stephen F. Austin, Williams caught the attention of the league's scouts with his athleticism, and cover skills. Some scouts considered Williams undersized coming out of college and not as stout as teams prefer in a run defender.
But those same scouts raved about Williams' fluidity, and sideline-to sideline range, not to mention the high grades he received in the character department. Many scouts graded Williams higher than Bears' sixth-round pick J.T. Thomas, who is currently on the team's injured reserve.
Williams posted 109 tackles, and 6 1/2 sacks as a senior at Stephen F. Austin in 11 starts to follow up a junior campaign in which he tallied 113 tackles and 9 1/2 sacks.
It also doesn't hurt that Williams is a native of Texas. The current Bears roster features 11 players from Smith's home state.
"We've been one linebacker short for a while," Smith said. "So good pick-up by us by Jerry [Angelo], [director of player personnel] Tim [Ruskell], and the guys with him."