Heading into the 2013 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings must address needs at wide receiver on offense and linebacker and cornerback on defense. With one of their two first round picks they need to select defensive tackle Sylvester Williams.
If the Vikings had not signed former Green Bay Packer wide receiver Greg Jennings, then the top draft priority would be at wide receiver. While the Vikings still need to upgrade the position, they can use their first pick in the draft to address the need at defensive tackle.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has his work cut out for him. With 18 of 20 draft picks over the last two years still on the team, he needs to have another successful draft, adding at least three starters. That starts with the selection of Williams from North Carolina.
Having him play alongside Kevin Williams would re-establish the Williams Wall. From 2005 to 2010, the Williams Wall consisted of Kevin and Pat Williams. In five of the six seasons they played alongside each other on the defensive line, the Vikings' run defense was ranked in the top 10 in the NFL, and from 2006 to 2008 they had the top ranked rushing defense, allowing an average of 70.9 yards per game.
Over the last two seasons the Vikings' defense has dropped to 11th in the league, allowing an average of 106.4 yards per game.
In a strange sense of symmetry, Pat Williams joined the Vikings when he was 33, the same age that Kevin Williams will be when the 2013 season opens. At 6'3" and 313 pounds, Sylvester Williams fits the mold of the other two Williams—Kevin is 6'5" and 311 pounds, and Pat was 6'3" and 315 pounds.
Sylvester Williams' statistics during his two seasons at North Carolina compare favorably to Kevin Williams' last two seasons at Oklahoma State.
The following YouTube video provides some background on Williams, who did not start playing football until his senior year in high school.
Since the departure of Pat Williams, the Vikings have tried—and failed—to replace him with Remi Ayodele in 2011 and Letroy Guion 2012. While the 38-year-old Williams started all 16 games and finished with 31 tackles in 2008, Ayodele (28) had only 14 tackles in 13 starts in 2011 and Guion (25) had 29 tackles in 15 starts last season.
Sylvester Williams has the size to tie up blockers at the line of scrimmage, and the speed to shoot the gap and chase down running backs and quarterbacks.
The following images are taken from a YouTube video highlighting Williams' abilities.
On this play he is lined up over the guard, on the A-gap.
As the ball is snapped. Williams fills the A-gap.
He uses a swim move to shed the blocker and push into the backfield.
With his speed he is on the quarterback before he has a chance to even look downfield—the result is a sack.
On this play he lines up wider, covering the B-gap.
With the offensive line pushing to their right, Williams uses his quickness again to avoid the block, shooting the gap.
The play is designed for the running back to go to his right. Williams makes short work of the guard's block, leaving him on the ground as he focuses on the running back.
The running back attempts to cut back to his left, but Williams is too quick.
His attempt is thwarted as Williams is able to wrap him up, tackling him for a loss.
The Vikings can use a player like Williams that has the ability to bring inside pressure and eat up blocks to help stuff the running game.