Kyle Williams Set to Enjoy Monster Season in Buffalo Bills' New 4-3 Look
The Buffalo Bills have made a lot of strong off-season moves, and their defensive line is shaping up to be a fearsome foursome in new defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt’s 4-3 scheme.
They were relentless in their pursuit of 2012’s marquee free agent and eventually secured the signature of Mario Williams after a lengthy wooing session, and they added Mark Anderson to the mix at defensive end, too.
Marcel Dareus is expected to make big leaps forward after an exciting but inconsistent rookie year, but everybody seems to have gone to sleep on the best player in that defense, Kyle Williams.
Williams was good enough to make it work in a 3-4 playing either nose tackle or end, but he was miscast in that scheme and is built to play as part of a four-man line. When the Bills played him there he was virtually unstoppable, and with the talent around him could be a devastating force in 2012.
Kyle Williams came from a successful, high-profile, SEC school in the shape of LSU, but was one of those players that got ignored in the obsessive pursuit of measurables when it came down to draft evaluation time.
At 6’1 and 303 pounds he was seen as a little undersized, and with no one linear measurement that jumped off the clipboard, he was passed over until the fifth round of the 2006 draft, by which time nine other defensive tackles had come off the board, including John McCargo to the Bills in the first round.
Sometimes in the quest for measurables, 40 times, and the important analysis of a player’s physique in spandex, talent evaluators seem to lose sight of how that man actually plays football. Kyle Williams was an excellent football player at LSU, and for some crazy reason that translated to the NFL.
Just to make sure, let’s check out his career stats vs. Glenn Dorsey, a defensive tackle that followed Williams to the draft two years later, and started a similar number of games:
Dorsey was a slightly more active tackle, registering almost 40 more tackles in his starts, but other than that, the numbers are a wash, and yet Dorsey was seen as a can’t-miss top five prospect, and Kyle Williams was barely selected in the top five rounds.
Outshining John McCargo wasn’t a tough task, and Williams quickly emerged as a starter for the Bills, earning himself a contract extension by 2008.
That season, he was one of the best run defenders in the league, right up there with nose tackles Jamal Williams and Vince Wilfork, but unless you’re 330+lbs and the focal point in a 3-4 defense, nobody is going to notice your play against the run.
To get on the radar, Williams was going to have to improve his pass rush as well, and that’s exactly what he set about doing. By 2010, he had developed into a complete defensive tackle; still a monster in run defense, but with the quickness, strength and burst to get into the backfield and disrupt pass plays as well.
He notched 5.5 sacks that season, which was outshone by the 10 recorded by Ndamukong Suh, but Williams did it without selling out against the pass and abandoning any run responsibility. Williams also recorded a ridiculous 77 tackles that year, which trailed only a single defensive lineman in the NFL, Cleveland’s Ahtyba Rubin, who had 82.
For a demonstration of how destructive Williams can be, you need only to watch the game against Pittsburgh in Week 12 of that season. He tore through the Steelers offensive line in that game and destroyed plays before they could get going all game long.
The very first play the Steelers ran, Williams manhandled right guard Ramon Foster and blew up the intended point of attack before Foster could readjust and Rashard Mendenhall could cut back and continue the run. He would keep that up all day, and Pittsburgh would manage just 19 points.
Maurkice Pouncey was busy getting Pro-Bowl and All-Pro nominations as the hype train ran away down the tracks, but he was completely unable to deal with Williams in this game, surrendering pressure and getting beaten for both quickness and raw power all day.
Neither guard beside him was able to fare much better as Williams mounted one of the finest single-handed displays you will ever see from a defensive tackle. That performance came from a 4-3 front, as Buffalo had already gone away from the 3-4 that was ill-suited to their personnel.
Big things were expected of Williams last year, but an injury plagued his season before eventually shutting him down.
But now that we’ve had a little review of Williams so far, why should we expect him to be any better in 2012? The new additions to that defensive front will open things up in a huge way.
Many made the connection that Mark Anderson will be big in keeping some of the attention away from Mario Williams, but think what Anderson, Williams and Dareus will do for keeping attention away from Kyle Williams.
When he single-handedly tore through the Steelers' offensive line, the other three players on that defensive line were Dwan Edwards, Chris Kelsay and Marcus Stroud. None of those players were going to demand extra attention, but any of the three he now finds himself playing alongside could on a given day.
Williams is going to see more one-on-one matchups than he has ever seen before, and if he returns to his 2010 form, he was virtually unblockable one on one. There are few guards in the NFL that can match his initial burst off the line, but also cope with the quickness and leverage he has.
Williams has that rare strength, much like Justin Smith, to be able to lock onto a lineman and simply toss them to the side or walk them into the backfield if he wants. There aren’t too many players that can absorb that brute force and counter it with their own.
Mario Williams was the big-name free agent, and Marcel Dareus is the highly touted draft prospect, but Kyle Williams is the player that is most likely to benefit by the talent added to that new 4-3 front, and with just one gap to control and one guy left to block him, he will be a feature in the opponent’s backfield all season long.
Kyle Williams is set to explode in the new Buffalo defense.
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