The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Samford defensive tackle Nick Williams in the seventh-round of the 2013 NFL draft and below is my breakdown and grade of the pick.
Measurables: Combine Invite: Yes, Height: 6044, Weight: 309, 40 Yrd Dash: 4.84, 20 Yrd Dash: 2.80, 10 Yrd Dash: 1.70, 225 Lb. Bench Reps: 28, Vertical Jump: 33, Broad Jump: 09\’03″, 20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.65, 3-Cone Drill: 7.55
Breakdown: For starters, Williams played a lot of 3-technique in a 4-3 defense at Stamford, and according to Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell, he will be 3-4, 5-technique defensive end project of his.
Physically, Williams is quite a specimen as you tell by his measurables alone. If you like playing with the numbers, the 6044, 309-pound Williams has a 70.4 explosion rating and a 112.6 speed score. Those are really some impressive scores in you are not familiar with the scale. You can also see the athleticism that Williams has in his combine video.
On the football field, the two-year college starter uses his long 81-inch arms to gain separation from his blocker by locking his arms out, which in most of the tape that I watched, was against a guard. While he stays balanced, he could do a better job at keeping a stronger base underneath him, especially when double-teamed. Another flaw of his, when working against a moving zone front, or attacking a guard outside, is that he doesn\’t always keep himself square to the line of scrimmage. That is a big no-no.
Williams is sudden off of the snap, but will at times come off too high against the run which allows guards to get underneath his pads. He also struggles at times with inside down blocks from the tackles. While the athleticism and strength is there, Williams doesn\’t always have the explosion that you would think he would have when looking at his measurables. He is really raw as far as technique goes, but you very rarely see him off of his feet and on the ground. I saw that happen just once in the game against Kentucky when he was flattened by guard Larry Warford, who was just drafted by the Detroit Lions in the third-round.
Another thing that I did not like about Williams is that he seems to play hot and cold. In addition to that, he lacks effort after the play is past him. In other words, he doesn\’t like to chase. For a player with his quickness and agility, I found that surprising.
Against the pass, Williams can push the pocket and loops well on stunts. Against Kentucky, however, he never was a threat to the quarterback, even when lined up on the other side of Warford. In fact, Williams only had one assisted tackle in that game.
In the other game that I watched against Georgia Southern, Williams only had one solo tackle, three assist, no sacks and no quarterback hurries. Were these his two worst games last season?
Grade & Summation: Unfortunately the only two games I could watch were against Kentucky and Georgia Southern and Williams did not flash in either of them. As Mitchell stated during his press conference, Williams is a project and turning him into a 3-4 defensive end that will be able to contribute will likely take some time. If I were to grade the pick on measurables alone, I would grade an A plus, but after watching him play and knowing that he will be a long-term project, I give the selection a C minus. Mitchell\’s last project was Steve McLendon, who will finally start at nose tackle in 2013. Can he work his magic again with Williams, who really is a raw, but well built piece of clay right now? We will find out in a few years and I wouldn\’t expect it to be any earlier than that.