After the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted linebacker Vince Williams in the sixth-round of the 2013 NFL Draft, linebackers coach Keith Butler made it clear what he needs to see out of the Florida State product come the start of the season.
“He runs at the ball well,” said Butler. “He gets off blocks well. He destroyed Gutierrez. We try to stay away from players who are not going to be physical. We think that he is all those things. He can get to the ball and he can hit you when he gets to the ball.
“We’ll see how in training camp if he has the ability to cover running backs and stuff like that. Obviously if he is not going to be a three-down football player in college then he is not going to all of a sudden step to the National Football League and be a three-down player. That is something we have to determine in training camp.”
Williams reportedly showed during the offseason practices that he was able to grasp the defense fairly well and cornerback Ike Taylor was asked last week during his show on Trib Live Radio if he thinks the linebacker will be able to contribute some on defense during his rookie season.
“He could,” said Taylor. “The thing with Vince, we got to see if he\’s an every down linebacker, meaning first, second and third down. Can he cover on third down? That\’s what I\’m working on with Vince. Yeah, first and second down, you know he\’s going to knock somebody\’s head off. That\’s already the understanding. Third down, now it\’s time to cover.
“So we all got stuff we need work on, and I think that\’s one of the things we can work on with Vince. And I\’m sure about the time we head to training camp, and he gets all the reps as far as like third down during training camp, when the preseason comes, everything\’s going to be smooth.”
Taylor also mentioned during his show that Williams is one of several Steelers players training with him down in Florida at the Wide World of Sports Complex for the remainder of the offseason under the watchful eye of renowned trainer Tom Shaw and that certainly is a good thing. The biggest knock on Williams heading into the draft was his lack of ability to change directions quickly, so hopefully he can improve that a little by working with Shaw.
During his time at Florida State, Williams was usually pulled on third downs in lieu of an extra defensive back, so he doesn\’t have a lot of experience covering one-on-one or dropping into to coverage as a result.
While Taylor is optimistic that Williams will be able to contribute some on defense during his rookie season, I doubt that he will unless a few injuries hit. Instead, Williams will be asked to put that hitting ability of his to use on special teams with hopes that he can eventually replace Larry Foote in 2014 as the starter next to Lawrence Timmons.