FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - It's the young face, the bright eyes and the wide smile that earned Quinnen Williams the nickname 'Big Baby.' He's been a charmer at his press conferences too, with the infectious laugh of a child.
But his Jets teammates aren't fooled by Big Baby's youth or his soft and friendly demeanor.
"He's a guy that obviously is young right now and he's feeling out everything," safety Jamal Adams said after practice on Tuesday. "But he has the mindset of a killer."
The outside world will get its first look at that "killer" mindset on Thursday night, when the 6-3, 303-pound Williams - the third overall pick in this year's NFL draft - makes his NFL preseason debut against the Giants. He'll likely start, since he has replaced the injured Leonard Williams (hip) with the first team at practice over the last few days.
And he's not just with the first team by default, either. He's earned his place in the lineup. Even Jets coach Adam Gase acknowledged there was "not much of a drop off" from one Williams to the other, which was quite a compliment for the younger of the two. And his teammates agreed. Quinnen Williams entered the NFL promising to "dominate" and so far, he hasn't given those teammates any reason to doubt it.
"He's very dynamic," said veteran defensive tackle Steve McLendon. "He's a young man who's very explosive, great hands. The sky is the limit for him."
"He's a powerful dude, but he's also really quick," added defensive end Henry Anderson. "I think that presents some good opportunities for him when he's on the inside of the line going against guards and centers. For a guy his size, you don't typically see the quickness and quick twitch that he has."
That was on display during practice on Tuesday, when he used an incredibly fast first step to dart between center Jonotthan Harrison and guard Brian Winters for a would-be sack of quarterback Sam Darnold. That's the power and speed the Jets saw when they decided to take Williams' third overall.
The plan and hope is that he can be such a disruptive force inside, that he opens up room for Leonard Williams, Anderson and the Jets' edge rusher to keep constant pressure on the quarterback. He can provide a pass rush on his own, but just as importantly he can create space for the pass rush to come from others.
And he won't do that with just with his power and speed, either. He'll do it with some of the other tools he's picked up.
"He's working moves," said guard Kelechi Osemele. "He's already a strong kid, so he's playing to his strengths. He's already got a good bull-rush. But what I've seen from Day 1 is he's working some counters and using his hands really well. He's progressing."
Osemele said "it's a good sign" that Williams is progressing that quickly so early in his first camp. And while no one was ready to label him the "dominant" player he plans to be, clearly, he's well on his way.
"He's confident, man," Adams said. "He's definitely confident. If he doesn't reach the goal, everybody's going to talk about him. And that's OK. He's holding himself accountable. He's holding himself at a high level. All you can do is respect it."