Thursday, 31 December 2009

Any Volunteers? Part 2 of 2

Tennessee has quite a bit of legitimate NFL talent on their roster, including the monstrous (6'3 327lb) defensive tackle Dan Williams. Williams, like Hardesty, enjoyed a breakout year in 2009, though Williams started 9 games in 2008 and was a solid performer then as well. While Eric Berry gets all the accolades, and rightly so, any team sleeping on Dan Williams was in for a nasty surprise.

Oddly enough, Williams projects as a better pass rusher than run stuffer in the NFL. While possessing the prototype build to occupy two blockers, Williams does not anchor terribly well at the point of attack. Against Alabama, there were times when Williams was pushed five yards off the line of scrimmage by two blockers. While Alabama is a great running team, things aren't going to get easier at the NFL level for Williams, so it's concerning that he couldn't hold up at the point in college. It wasn't just against double teams either - while he didn't get pushed back 1 on 1, he wasn't wreaking the backfield havoc that a team would want a 1st-round defensive tackle to cause, either.

If Williams were your typical tub-of-lard 327lb defensive tackle, the above paragraph would be enough to relegate him to the late rounds. However, Williams has a lot of things going for him. He combines above-average athleticism with a solid motor, chasing down runs away from him consistently - one of the few big DTs who is an asset on runs away from him. He's a good tackler and a surprisingly good pass rusher - he applied all sorts of pressure in the two games I graded. He has a nice swim move, works to keep hands off of him, and is capable of shrinking the pocket(something Seattle has sorely lacked this year).

Something about Tennessee seems to create good players who's game may not translate terribly well to the NFL. Eric Berry is one of the best defensive players in college football, but he is going to have to answer questions about his size and tackling to go as high in the draft as his play warrants. Montario Hardesty is an overall solid back who does a lot of things well, but may spend his career as a backup and spot starter. Williams is a 327lb defensive tackle who can pass rush but (in limited plays, I definitely wouldn't make a decision on Williams without watching more games) struggles to hold up at the point of attack. I didn't know what to expect from Williams when I started scouting him, but this was not it. What's more frustrating is that I can't pinpoint exactly why he struggles - he has a strong lower-body build, good motor, clearly is a smart player who understands technique... it's mystifying why he isn't destroying the guys lined up in front of him.

Unlike Hardesty, who I think I understand reasonably well (at least as a runner), I am not totally sold that I've seen the real Dan Williams. Maybe I've just had the luck to catch him in two games where he didn't excel. Depending on how the offseason progresses, I'll most likely take another look at Williams (once I've obtained more games), but from what I've seen so far I'm not sure where I'd take Williams. It certainly wouldn't be in the first round, but his size, athleticism, pass rushing technique, and motor is not something you come across too often. I'd consider Williams a high risk, high reward player at this point, because if he can improve his anchor in the running game he could go on to have a very long, productive NFL career.

12 comments:

1stHill said...

I'm suprised that you knock Williams against the run. From the few games I have watched of Williams, he looked really good against the run. I thought he was one of the better DT against the run. Maybe he is not as good against the run as I had thought.

Kyle Rota said...

I'm surprised, too.

He does some things well against the run. He hustles and is decently athletic, so he makes some tackles that most guys his size wouldn't even have a chance at.

But on runs right at him, he doesn't seem to anchor well. At least, not in the two games I have. It's important not to draw firm conclusions from 2 games though, because really 4 is the number where you (usually) stop seeing new things in a player.

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