OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Brandon Williams became one of the NFL's highest-paid interior defensive linemen primarily on his run-stopping ability.
To take that next step as a player -- and show everyone he earned his five-year, $52.5 million contract -- Williams is looking to become more of an every-down player for the Baltimore Ravens.
"I need to get my sacks up," Williams said. "I need to get my pass-rushing up. I am excited. I just had a meeting with our D-line coach, Coach [Joe] Cullen yesterday, about me kind of fine-tuning. I have the run-stop. I could still work on it, obviously, but I'm more just trying to work on my pass rush, trying to get out there and do the best I can."
Williams has had only 4.5 sacks in his four NFL seasons. The most he's had in a season is two.
Last season, there were 10 interior defensive linemen who totaled five or more sacks. The measuring sticks for Williams and the rest of the league are Geno Atkins (nine sacks in 2016) and Aaron Donald (eight).
Providing more of a push in the pass rush could allow Williams to see more playing time. He participated in only 48 snaps on third downs, which ranked ninth among nose tackles.
"I think he could [make an impact as a pass-rusher] because he is going to be a pocket pusher," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He can work edges. Guys, we know he is athletic -- you have seen all the things he can do athletically. I believe he can do it."
The Ravens made Williams one of their top priorities in free agency. Baltimore gave him a deal that averages $10.8 million per season, which is the highest for a nose tackle and ranks eighth among defensive tackles.
Williams has proven to be a difference-maker, especially in stopping the run. With him on the field, Baltimore allowed 3.5 yards per carry since 2013. Without him, the Ravens gave up 4.2 yards per carry.
"We are expecting a dominant player, flat-out," Harbaugh said. "He has the capability of doing that. I see it in the weight room, I see it out here on the field and I see it in the meeting room. I expect him to be a leader. He is a young guy, but he is the leader of that group. I expect him to be great."
Four years ago, Williams was a Division II player out of Missouri Southern State who lasted until the third round of the draft. He became a starter by his second season, replacing Arthur Jones in the starting lineup and quickly became one of the top interior linemen despite never reaching a Pro Bowl.
Williams was rewarded his offseason with a $12.5 million signing bonus, which is nearly five times what he made in his first four NFL seasons combined.
"People say, 'Oh you got a contract, and now you can kind of relax.' There is no relaxing," Williams said. "It is actually that you got the contract, so now you have to earn your keep. So now you have to push the gas a little bit harder and kind of get as much as you can out of yourself to show people, 'Hey, I earned this.'"