Upon further review of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 NFL Draft, there is more to like than I previously believed. The players the Steelers selected at the top all have the look of future stars. But it is looking more and more like the later round selections aren’t simply “camp bodies”, so to speak. One in particular that has impressed me as I’ve studied him after the fact is Samford defensive-tackle Nick Williams.
Williams is a physical marvel. He’s 6-5, 309lbs, and has elite athleticism. A 4.84 40-yard dash is truly impressive. When you consider he has a basketball background, you understand why many teams had a 5th round grade on Williams. After tracking down some Samford football, some very good things and very bad things were clear. First, Williams’ athleticism made him a nightmare for opposing offenses at times. He was bigger and faster than his opponents and was unblockable. But the bad news is Williams success came with very little real technique. He was an interior player, but worked outside on stunts quite a bit. This leads me to believe that the Steelers intend to coach him up to play a 5-technique defensive end.
I think back to some past Steelers late-round defensive lineman picks, primarily Aaron Smith, a former 4th round pick, and current Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel, a former 7th round pick. Keisel didn’t crack the starting lineup full time until his 5th season, and I can see a similar career path for Williams. The Steelers don’t have a tremendous amount of depth at defensive end this year, so keeping Williams around shouldn’t be a problem. The Steelers staff should be able to harness some of that top-flight athletic ability while they coach him up on the subtle parts of his game. It might take a little time, but I have high hopes for Williams.