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Steelers 2013 Draft – 7th Round Pick – DE Nick Williams – Breakdown & Grade


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.

Game Links: KentuckyGeorgia Southern

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Kenneth Wilt

    I would guess he is destined for the PS.

  • Busforever

    I guess his role is also to push in the back of Ziggy Hood, who is also a physical beast but doesn’t deliver on the field. Maybe Hood needs to feel that he isn’t the only freaking athlete at his position to show more consistency. Some guys work/play better under pressure. Maybe we didn’t challenge Hood enough, maybe he felt he was the successor of Aaron Smith no matter what happened. I hope that kind of competition will turn the lights on for him!

  • steeltown

    I would assume so, atleast for now

    In 2014, I would think Williams has a really good shot at being a backup being that Keisel, Hood and Al Woods will be UFA’s.. I don’t expect all of them back

  • sean mcmartin

    One of the reasons the Steelers have no push is the loss of aaron smith, He was a beast and you would not see teams moving the pile to the right with smith in.
    Hood has not been anything but average. It’s a huge loss.

  • LucasY59

    4.84 thats almost as fast as Teo, maybe he could backup Foote. It’s also faster than J. Jones, lucky we got him in the 7th.

    Obviously production is more important than measurable’s, but good measurable’s are what is needed for a 7th rd project to turn into a possible starter or quality depth. the 7th rd is a good value for a guy who could be a good backup (and possibly the next Keisel) a year on the Practice Squad and coaching from Mitchell could get him a roster spot next year with Heyward being the only DE signed past this year.

    Brian Arnfelt looks to have have similar measurables (even more strength 38 bench reps) both could be on the PS this year and like I already said a little depth/insurance for the DE’s after this year

  • SteelSpine

    Wow thanks for watching the video for me DaveB! All I had was the specs on the dude, that breakdown of videos really adds to it.

    Good use of a 7th round pick. DE was in the 2nd tier of needs so I figured we’d draft a DE in a late round. Of course any DE who could play soon is gonna be picked over by then, so I like taking a flier on someone with upside. If he doesn’t develop enough, then he’d be a camp body & only lost a 7th round pick.

  • SteelSpine

    I think if someone this raw is competition for Ziggy now, then Ziggy is even worse than I thought. I doubt Williams is any push of any starter. I woulda liked to draft any DE now who has a chance to start at beginning of 2014 season, but I understand we had other needs. We didn’t have enuff high picks to get anyone to compete with Ziggy so looks like we’re left with hoping Ziggy improves. Now someone’s gonna say our defense was #1 so that proves every player on our defense was solid so that means Ziggy, but I think that argument is tired.

  • steeltown

    Exactly.. low risk for a player with upside

  • steeltown

    I think Hood has been servicable, but thats not quite good enough. Coach Butler was asked about the run defense in a post draft interview and he specifically mentioned Hood and having Mitchell work with Hood on some technique issues… I thought that was interesting

  • walter mason

    Yes it was interesting. I think the Steelers expected more from a 1st round pick. When I first questioned the play of Hood last year I was called stupid on this forum by 2 members. I forget who..
    Hood needs to step up or be replaced. Hood is in his contract year. Hes great insurance to have on the bench if we can afford to keep him.
    We will probably have to sign him for the same reason we signed Foster. Hes servicable.

  • steeltown

    I think he’s a good player, but he hasnt been great. I think they’ll re-sign him, I just hope it doesnt break the bank.. and who knows maybe he kills it this year (but then we’ll have to pay him more, ha)

  • charles

    Williams looks like a great opportunity. The way the down linemen are instructed to play, it is very difficult to evaluate their performance. If someone hadn’t told most of these expert evaluators they would have never known if Aaron Smith was any good. What Aaron’s best ability was was to occupy two players and still collapse the pocket, he never rang up highlight stats or made big hits.
    For a #7 Williams looks like a great and boring project, just what the Steelers want out of their D line.

  • steeltown

    Mitchell mentioned that the tape on him is not overly impressive, this is definitely a case of using a late Rd pick on an athlete with upside, who has potential to learn to use his natural physical gifts to be a solid player in the League.

    Hopefully he can learn and become a good player

  • mokhkw

    I’ve watched the same 2 games that Dave did & agree 100%. It’s obvious that he’s an ex-basketball player imo. He’s very raw and one thing I noticed was that he over-reaches with his 1st step meaning that when he gets 1st contact he’s not balanced. That’s probably also why he gets too high coming out of the blocks. He’s got a lot of refining to do & I wouldn’t expect to see him on the field this year or next.

    I also thought that because he’s so raw that if the DL thing didn’t work out then OL or blocking TE could also be a possibility. I saw zero instincts in the 2 games I saw, a lot of the time he appeared to have no idea where the play was going, even on run plays. I’m guessing that’s why the measurements don’t show up on tape as they should, he’s spending too much time thinking instead of reacting…or just trying to find out where the ball has gone.

    If my excitement level about him when drafted was a 10 after seeing the numbers then it’s about a 2 after seeing the game tape. Don’t get your hopes up too high on this one.

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