The two most famous sixth round draft picks in recent NFL history are Tom Brady and Terrell Davis. Combined, the two have five Super Bowl rings and while I certainly don’t want Brady to get any more, I can’t deny his success as a pro quarterback.
I definitely don’t have those types of expectations for Vince Williams, but that doesn’t mean I can’t expect big things from one of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ sixth round selections in this past April’s draft.Williams enters the 2013 Steelers’ training camp with a great chance to make the roster at inside linebacker.
Whether the Steelers and linebackers coach Kevin Butler choose to play him at the ‘mack’ or ‘buck’ position is not 100% certain yet, but with a lack of depth at the inside backer positions, Williams could find his way onto the roster.
Williams started all 13 games last season for Florida State and helped the Seminoles’ defense lead the nation in limiting the opponents’ yards per play which was just 3.86. He missed the 2009 season with a back injury but seems to have overcome those issues.
Watching Williams on tape, you’ll see a guy who lacks size but that doesn’t limit his tenacity. The Steelers list him at 6′ 1″ 250 pounds and that may be a bit generous in both the height and the weight department. Williams gets sideline-to-sideline extremely well and showed the ability to close on ball carriers with great speed and control. The Steelers like guys who are sound tacklers and Williams fits that mold.
My concern with him is taking on blockers at the point of attack. His speed and quickness allows him to get off blocks quickly but at the NFL level, he’ll need to improve that as guards and tackles are both big and athletic which could pose problems for him.
His skills in pass coverage don’t always look natural to me but I can’t argue with a lot of the results. He showed that he could cover both tight ends and backs and I was really impressed at his angles of pursuit especially covering backs in the flats. FSU played Williams occasionally on third downs but did replace him a lot too with a defensive back especially in third and long situations. Whether he can become a three-down backer for the Steelers is uncertain but the potential is there.
With Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote holding down the starting spots, Williams joins a small group that includes Stevenson Sylvester that wants the prime back-up spot. This season is make or break for Sylvester and it should be a good battle. The wild card of course is Sean Spence who was drafted in the third round last year.
Spence was a having a really good preseason before suffering a horrible knee injury that involved some nerve damage. While Spence claims he’ll be back, the team isn’t so sure. Thus the selection of Williams.
Marshall McFadden is another guy to keep an eye on at inside backer as well. He claims to be more comfortable with the defense heading into this year and will make a strong push for a roster spot.He and Sylvester are both good special teams guys as well.
Williams may or may not be a factor in 2013, but with Foote near the end of his career, the spot is available sooner rather than later. Perhaps Williams can be another one of those rare gems selected in the sixth round.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.