Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Kevin Williams—Half the 'Williams Wall'

 By John Turney 
Because of an odd series of events at the 2003 NFL Draft, Kevin Williams became a Viking. In the first round, the Vikings didn't get their draft card turned in in time because they thought they had a trade. In the meantime teams leaped in front of them because they are allowed to do that if someone "passes". It was possible that the Vikings could have lost their guy (Williams) in the confusion.

Regardless, the Vikings finally took Williams and it was very fortuitous because he became of the top two or three defensive tackles of his era.

He began as a left end in the base defense, then move inside in passing situations and then, his sophomore year (2004) he moved to defensive tackle, three-technique to be specific (on the outside shoulder of a guard most of the time). 

Very quick and immovable at the point of attack he anchored the middle of a Viking run defense that steadily improved until it was the best n the NFL, allowing just 985 yards and a 2.8-yard-per-carry average in 2006. In 2007 and 2008 they were almost as good. For the three-year period of 2006-2008 they allowed an average of 1,133 yards a season and a 3.1-yard average. It was as dominating a run defense as we've seen in the last 20 years.

Williams could push the pocket and get pressure on the passer as well, he was a very complete two-way lineman. It was all over for a guard if he beat him with his first move. He was doubled a lot as well. Kevin was a very good athlete and for his size, he could run well and matched that with great technique, great leverage, and use of his hands to ward off blockers.

He displayed his athleticism very well at the 2003 NFL Combine. Williams, at 304 pounds, ran a 4.84 forty with a 1.67 10-yard split (for comparison Aaron Donald did had a 1.63 10-yard split). Williams also did 23 reps of 225 pounds on the bench and had a 30-inch vertical leap, all excellent for a man his size.

In his career, the Vikings made the playoffs four times with two NFC North titles and appeared in an NFC title game during his time in 2009. 

Williams was not a talker, he went about his business as a three-technique quietly. "If you do good the attention will come", he said. And it did. He made six Pro Bowls and was a five-time consensus All-Pro. 

He as 63.0 career sacks and 60 run stuffs and was credited with 73 passes defended—extremely high for a defensive tackle. If he wasn't hitting the quarterback he was getting his hands up and deflecting passes. And according to Viking stats (and Football Outsiders for 2014 and 2015), Williams had 342 "hurries" including two seasons of over 50 (2006 and 2008). 

Whatever the numbers the game tape shows how great Williams was—he was special. 

Career stats—

1 comment:

  1. The 2003 Draft is full of irony. The Saints traded 17 and 18 to the Cardinals to select Jonathan Sullivan DT Georgia at 6. Sullivan was OK as a rookie but after that, he was only a terror at meal time. By 2006, he was out of the NFL. The guy the Saints could have had was Kevin Williams. They did not get him until 2015 in Williams' last NFL season, he was a good player for the Saints. Oh, but to have had him for 2003-2014!