6’3 ” 327 lbs.
Strengths: Size, Strength, Quickness, Hands, Stack and Shed, Character, Position.
Weaknesses: Athletic Ability, Feet, Closing Speed, Pass Rush
With San Diego and Pittsburgh both expected to be looking for nose tackles come spring time to replace vets Jamal Williams and Casey Hampton as they get up there in years, Dan Williams should find himself in high demand come Draft time.
The sturdy DT is not a big playmaker as a pass rusher and doesn’t rack up sacks like some of his competition at the position, but Williams is a huge part of the Tennessee defence. His play up front allows smaller LB like leading tackler Rico McCoy (6’1”, 220lbs) flow to the ball and rack up tackles.
Williams has put up at least 40 tackles each year since 2007, posting 56 tackles so far on the year to go with his team leading 8.5 TFL. Through the first 5 games of the season, Williams had only 1 TFL but has really turned in on over his last 6, picking up 7.5 of his total in that span, including 2 in each of his last two games against Vandy and Ole Miss. Don’t let the Rebels 359 rushing yards fool you though. Much of that high number came from Dexter McCluster, who racked up 282 yards and 4 TD in that game but did much of his damage on the outside. Williams put up 48 tackles and 8.5 TFL in 2008 despite being hampered by an ankle injury. His lack of big plays keeps him from getting the recognition he deserves, but scouts and pundits are paying attention to the beast in the middle of the Vols defence.
With only 6.5 career sacks, his ability to get to the QB is a question mark but his 15 career QB hurries indicates that he can collapse a pocket and get pressure. There is no question about his hustle though as he puts himself in a position to at least be a 330lbs obstacle, even if he doesn’t necessarily possess the athletic ability, speed or breakdown to make tackles in space and corral smaller, faster players. No, Williams’ game is all about taking up space and eating blockers, which is why he is held in such high regard despite his deficiencies. Williams knows his limitations and plays to his strengths, keeping his game simple if unspectacular. When left single blocked, Williams possess the strength and nasty demeanour to wreak havoc. His stack and shed ability is very good, allowing him to break free in time to make the play at the line of scrimmage.
He flashes good quickness to harass runners at the corners and will chase down the less-speedier QBs. Centers have their hands full with him and he has developed a very powerful bull rush that can be quite effective. He’s a high effort player at an in-demand position, making him all the more valuable come draft day.
Keeping him from being an elite prospect is his lack of pass rush ability. He lacks the elite speed and burst to close and does not possess elite burst of the snap. His ability to stop the run and free up teammates makes up for this insufficiency.
I listed him as a mid first round pick in my first mock of the year but eventually took him off when the season started as he had a bit of a slow start to the year stat wise and the multitude of fantastic players at the position. His play of late has him rising once again and he appears to have put the ankle injury far behind him. He’s a pretty safe pick as far as DT go thanks to his very simple game and the explosion of 3-4 defences will have someone taking an early flyer on him to plug into the middle of their D.