Not too many analysts considered defensive tackle a top priority for the Denver Broncos when the 2013 NFL Draft rolled around. So when they went out and snagged Sylvester Williams with the No. 28 overall pick, it was a bit of a head-scratcher.
Heading into 2013, the Broncos were set with a defensive front that consisted of Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson and recently-acquired Terrance Knighton. Considering their holes at both linebacker and safety, the defensive line appeared to be the least of their worries. Still, VP John Elway pulled the trigger on Williams when the Broncos were finally on the clock and got himself a value pick.
A starting job might be a longshot, but Williams has certainly been impressive in his short time with the Broncos. Even Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio had nothing but positive things to say about the rookie defensive tackle.
“Sylvester is a big guy – has some quickness, very serious and very determined in his approach,” Del Rio said. “That is a pretty good way to begin – come in here humble, but definitely ready to work and kind of man-up and do his job. That part has been very impressive.”
The Broncos should only expect more of the same from Williams during training camp. Once the shoulder pads are on, he’ll be able to show off his physicality and thunderous tackling abilities.
While Sylvester likely won’t leapfrog Vickerson or Knighton for a starting gig, he’ll definitely see plenty of playing time this upcoming season. His status as a disruptive, hard-nosed defensive tackle will be more than enough to earn a spot in the Broncos’ rotation. It also helps that he has the versatility to fill in at the three-technique or nose tackle, meaning that depth won’t be an issue along the Denver defensive line.
First-round picks don’t always start in their rookie seasons. There’s a good chance that could be the case for Williams, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t contribute immediately for the Broncos.