Is Williams a nose tackle? A 3-4 end? A defensive tackle? Where might he best utilized, and if the Bills could draft a complementary player, what kind of rookie should they seek?
Williams is the NFL’s most underrated defensive player. In fact, he should have been a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate, but because of his supporting cast and the horrendous state of the Bills, few recognized Williams’ outstanding accomplishments in 2010.
But what is the best way to utilize Williams? I don’t say this about many defensive linemen, but I do feel that Williams would be very effective at either nose tackle or end in a 3-4 scheme. He also excels as a one technique lined up on a shoulder of the center, or as a three technique lined up on the outside shoulder of a guard in the 4-3 scheme. So, in reality, he is just a very good football player who demonstrates exceptional leverage, power, quickness and tenacity that would help any defense a great deal. But no matter what scheme is used as the base, I would move Williams around quite a bit. The Baltimore Ravens do the same with Haloti Ngata to find the best matchups for their best player.
But if we are talking about the ideal situation, I think adding a true nose tackle type (think the New England Patriots' Vince Wilfork) would be most beneficial for Williams and the Bills’ run defense as a whole. Buffalo’s run defense is among the worst in the league. But the Bills did draft Torell Troup with the thought of him developing into that wide-bodied nose tackle to eat up blockers. But Troup was less-than-impressive as a rookie.
Marcus Stroud was also a massive disappointment, and it might be time to cut ties with him. But Alex Carrington, Dwan Edwards and Spencer Johnson all have varied skill sets and could contribute in either scheme, but would be best as ends in an odd front. All three played reasonably well in 2010, with Carrington still having a lot of upside after playing his college ball at Arkansas State.
If Troupe greatly improves, which could be far-fetched thinking, the thing that would help Williams and everyone else mentioned above the most would be a lethal edge pass-rusher. That player could be either in the form of a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. In a passing league, that cannot be overlooked. Williams can only do so much by himself.
Again, I would remain very multiple with Williams’ responsibilities. Obviously I am extremely high on Williams -- but in a way; because of his body type, he isn’t the prototype for any one specific defensive line technique or position. That isn’t a knock on what Williams can do for a defense at all, but it does go to show that he is a very unique player. It is time everyone took notice.
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