Blast From The Past: How Vince Williams Was Graded Prior To 2013 NFL Draft

Though the last snap of the 2016 NFL Season has been played, the 24/7 – 365 nature of the National Football League rolls on. It is at this time of year that the game moves from the field to the conference rooms of team facilities as scouts everywhere craft their final evaluations on a number of prospects. In the crosshairs of a multitude of scouts, these prospects are given no chance to fire back – that is until now. The following series of player profiles will be dedicated to giving a former prospect an opportunity to evaluate their evaluators based on their performance on the field.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Lawrence Timmons a decade ago, the Florida State linebacker was expected to be groomed to become the heir of the Steelers linebacking core. The same expectations were not thought of when the Steelers revisited the Florida State linebacking group six seasons later to select Vince Williams. Selected in the sixth round, Williams was a tough, physically imposing linebacker that was expected to be a two-down linebacker at best. But now four seasons removed from selecting Williams 206th overall, the linebacker is set to enter his first season as a defensive starter.

Not many sixth-round linebackers ever see themselves penciled in as starters, many do not even make their team but the Steelers are not overly worried in Williams’ ability. Taking a long journey back to Williams’ senior year at Florida State, the linebacker displayed many subtle and obvious signs that would promptly court the Steelers’ attention.

Bleacher Report’s scouting report of Williams reads as follows. “Williams has a mean streak and physical edge, always looking to punish ball-carriers. He has an extra gear when he gets a read on the play, and Williams is generally around the ball.”

Florida State supporters are not the only demographic to Williams’ punishing style of play as Steelers’ fans have grown accustomed to Williams punishing the ball carrier both on defense and special teams. For those curious of Williams’ punishing play at Florida State, below is an play that illustrates the linebacker’s (#11) brutality.

After starting 26 of his last 27 games at Florida State, Williams became an irreplaceable piece of the team’s defense for more reasons than just his play. Williams’ charisma and leadership were highly spoke of traits in evaluations of the linebacker’s performance.

Another excerpt from the Bleacher Report page states “Williams was a tone setter in the Seminoles defense. He was a leader on the field and his intensity never wavered.”

Setting the tone is an area where Williams’ has excelled with the Steelers, especially on special teams. Though a highlight reel of tone-setting hits could be made, you do not have to dwell any further than Williams’ hit on Tyreek Hill during this past season’s AFC Divisional Game, as you will not find a more defining hit from last season.

Despite Williams’ play and invitation to the Senior Bowl, the linebacker was not invited to participate in the NFL Combine, though this hardly changed the Steelers’ perception of him. The Steelers had seen enough in Williams to invite him for a pre-draft visit on April 1st and then just 26 days later selected him in the 6th round.

From a player projected anywhere from the 6th round to a priority undrafted free agent, Williams’ has beat the odds set against him in a record pace. Due to an injury to Larry Foote, Williams’ started 11 games for the Steelers in his rookie season, a rarity not seen in Pittsburgh since the days of Kendrell Bell. And now a year after signing a three-year/ $5.5 million contract extension, Williams will be asked to repeat what he accomplished over his rookie season and command the middle of the Steelers’ defense.

About the Author

Daniel Valente
Steelers fan from birth, spending majority of my free time looking up statistics. Had the honor of meeting Mike Vanderjagt shortly after his infamous missed field goal in the 2005 Divisional Round. Currently pursuing a Journalism degree. Follow me on Twitter @StatsGuyDaniel
  • Darth Blount 47

    Man, we’re turning into some real gamblers…

    Gambling that Vince Williams can man the middle from now on.
    Gambling that Golson won’t stub his toe and have it fall off.
    Gambling that Le’Veon Bell doesn’t need a competent backup.
    Gambling that Ben will not only come back, but won’t miss a bunch of games.
    Gambling that this coaching staff is perfectly capable as currently constituted.
    Gambling that we will fix all of our needs in this upcoming draft.
    Gambling that LaDarius Green isn’t counting Tweety Birds still.
    Gambling that sitting out Free Agency was the prudent move, as New England reloads.
    Gambling that we don’t need any more CB depth.
    Gambling that Lawrence Timmons was done and not worth the money.
    Gambling that James Harrison has at least one more good year left.

    Just gambling, man. Gambling. Some of those gambles are greater than others. But to deny that we are gambling, would be a misrepresentation. We’re definitely rolling the dice right now.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Life is a gamble, my dude! All those points are valid, but I think this draft is deep enough to fill every hole we have! Plus Free agency is far from over, add to the fact we like to hit up waiver wires during training camp and what not! Let’s see what the front office is getting bucks for! I can’t wait! #rollthedice

  • Jaybird

    I think a lot of those gambles will be addressed in the draft. And hopefully we get some pleasant surprises. Golson, V Williams, Bryant , Green – we need at LEAST two of these guys to become big time contributors.

  • Milliken Steeler

    I think Vince will do well. Some people just have the tenacity and nose for the ball, to over come perceived weakness. He reminds me of a Sam Mills or a Jessie Tuggle. I think the first two games he started last year due to injury, he had like 15 tackles and a sack in one and 9 tackles and another sack in the other.
    I can only see him get better with regular play.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Haha! Yeah, I’m a borderline compulsive gambler – so I’m not necessarily complaining like it may sound. I’m one of those guys who will bet you which raindrop will make it down the window first! 😉

    I’m as excited about this draft as anybody. Now, given how important it clearly has become for us, I’m more excited than ever! I’d head to Philly to watch it live this year if I didn’t fear for my life in that sinkhole of a city.

    I agree, I’m withholding final judgment until after training camp. Then I’ll have a better idea if #7 is TRULY in the cards or not.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Yeah, if we get Bryant back and he stays clean all year. If we can lock up Bell, Tuitt, and even Villy, long term. If Green is the guy we paid for. If Golson can come in and show us ANYTHING positive that he’s learned this whole time. And if Googly Eyes can come in and install some thumping presence in the middle, while Shaz runs around like a madman, we should be good, as long as the draft isn’t a total bust.

  • Jaybird

    This is gonna sound weird , but Bryant is the only one i have faith in as far as being a huge contributor.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I think that’s natural. We’ve seen what he can do when healthy and a part of this team. Truthfully, I was calling him Baby Moss almost from the beginning. I believe in my heart, that with focus and determination, Martavis Bryant COULD be a Hall of Famer.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Lmao! I love this whole offseason process! (Minus the draft being 40 sum odd days away) I think if Bryant is reinstated I won’t be worried about the offense too much and I think a defense heavy draft is just what the doctor ordered add to that a couple vet free agents and we will be ready to roll! Biggest ??? for me is Quez, VDub starting all season, and Bryant’s reinstatement. I think Green will be ready to hush the naysayers! I think we can feel out Ben’s attitude in training camp if the whole offensive weaponry is available! I can feel it!

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I literally call Bryant Baby Moss! Definitely a difference maker!

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Exactly. Hits that make the TV shake and put fear into the opponents. Sure tackles when he is anywheree near the ball. He will contribute I am sure. If he can do all these things well I will gladly take the odd occasion where he gets beat by a TE or WR. The same things happened to Timmons.

  • Jaybird

    The offseason is the best , ain’t it! I think I like it more than the actual games!

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    It’s definitely less stressful than the games! I love the games, but the offseason let’s you know if you have it or you don’t! I love a good deal getting done and the positivity and discussion on the forum! I love the mock drafts and even the ppl that say they don’t like certain players, because we all can’t watch all these guys! I love the articles on here! You guys are my guys and ain’t never met y’all! I think this season will be lit and we’ll be on the ride of our lives!

  • VinHuddle

    That doesn’t sound weird to me, I completely agree.

  • VinHuddle

    My Draft Countdown timer is showing 39 days, 2 hrs, 32 minutes & 49 seconds. 47, 45….

    I love the draft also and wish they’d add two rds to it. Don’t go overboard and take it back to the 70s when they had what..pushing 20 rds? That’s too much Kiper and Mayock lol

  • Jaybird

    Agreed – 7 rounds are not enough.

  • RickM

    In terms of a huge contributor: Bryant 80%, Williams 40%, Golson 25%, Green 15%.

  • srdan

    I agree. Only thing I’ll say is offensive coordinators don’t put in wrinkles aimed at the backups. It will be interesting to see what it look s like when coordinators try to attack his weaknesses. I think his prowness will overcome a lot of those plays

  • Kenneth Barringer


  • JohnB

    Heres to the (high) hopes hes the Harrison waiting behind Porter. Haha

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Darth, I don’t disagree but due to salary cap issues most teams are in the same boat.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Didn’t Vincenzo have a couple double digit tackle games Lat year? He’s a playa!

  • AndyR34

    Great post DB47G! You know me…TOO many gambles to expect success. Too many holes to fix with a draft…even no. ones will really only hit their peak when the season is 1/2 over…too late to get home field advantage and miss the Pats. And as you know we need an over-whelming team to over come the coaching deficit. Oh well, at least we can bask in the joy of another 11-5 team, a loss in the AFCCG, and Ben’s likely last season.

  • Daniel Valente

    Almost but not quite, Williams had 16 combined tackles vs Chiefs in week 4 and 9 combined tackles vs Jets in week 5. Still a player though !

  • ND_Steel

    As long as Pats get to play the likes of Buf (Tyrod Taylor), Mia (Tanneyhill), and NYJ (who knows), that’s an easy 6-0, at worst 5-1. Then they just need a winning record against outside the division, 6-4 for home field advantage. These pathetic teams are as much a reason for NE’s success as anything. Hoping Miami finally picks it up a little. If they were playing Balt and Cincy every year, things may be different.

  • Steve

    Vince will hit you like a brick. One of the best tackler on the Steelers. IMO – we will not miss Timmons, but I got to say one thing, Timmons didn’t miss much playing time due to injury.

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  • Jim Foles

    i always said.. swap the browns with the pats and see how it works out for them.

  • Jim Foles

    i feel Hunter will shine on our offense.