In the final 20 days before the start of the regular season, we are counting down the top 20 players in the NFC East. For a full explanation, see this post. And if you want to read any of the other posts that have run since we started this series, you can find them all here, in this link.
(Last year: Not ranked)
Williams was on the verge of this list a year ago, because he'd been on the verge of making himself into one of the league's top left tackles before a silly four-game drug suspension ended his 2011 season early. The No. 4 pick in the 2010 draft, Williams has long possessed the talent and the athletic ability to be one of the best in the league at his position. And during his first two NFL seasons, you saw flashes of the way he can dominate an opposing defender with his strength, his quickness, his agility or some combination of all three. What you hadn't seen was an ability to deliver that kind of performance consistently, on a week-to-week basis. When you're capable of playing the way Williams is at his best, the key to greatness is to do it every time out -- not just when you feel motivated.
Well, Williams showed up in 2012 fully motivated, and the season he put together was a clinic in fulfillment of potential. He played hurt. He played tough. He played brilliantly against the best pass-rushers in the league, week in and week out. He showed a leader's maturity in the locker room. He became someone to whom others on the offensive line could look for guidance and whose technique they could watch on tape as an example of how to do the job. He helped deliver a division title. He made the Pro Bowl. Williams is now one of the best left tackles in the NFL, and a no-brainer for this year's NFC East Top 20.
The rest of the rankings: