Sixth Round: 206th Pick
As soon as the NFL Scouting Combine invites are announced, debates begin over the biggest snub and which of them will be the first non-combine player drafted. Florida State linebacker Vince Williams was curiously good enough to get a spot at the Senior Bowl but not at the combine. Did the NFL make a mistake, or are the flaws in Williams' game big enough to justify his omission?
Williams is a decisive, downhill inside linebacker who makes quick reads and takes a beeline to the action. He plays with urgency and power and can cover a lot of ground to make a play in pursuit. Williams has a mean streak and physical edge, always looking to punish ball-carriers. He has an extra gear when he gets a read on the play, and Williams is generally around the ball. He is also a stout linebacker who can fight through blocks or jolt a blocker in the hole when he has to clash with them.
Over-aggressiveness gets Williams in a lot of trouble. When he guesses wrong, he will take himself completely out of a play. Williams' eyes wander, leading him to abandon his area of responsibility, often with bad results. He will bite on play fakes and can be lured into no man's land. Williams seems to prefer eluding blockers to taking them on. He sometimes gets so focused on his destination that he leaves himself open to being blown up by blockers he doesn't see. He might not have the foot speed and range to be a three-down linebacker.
Williams came in at 6' 3/4" and 233 pounds at his pro day, which is slightly undersized for an NFL inside linebacker. His adequate-but-not-great 4.76 40-yard dash time and poor quickness (4.67 short shuttle, 7.53 three-cone) highlight his limitations. His change of direction can look better on the field because he plays hot and moves faster when he spots the ball, and he is also sometimes sudden when it comes time to avoid a block in pursuit.
Williams was a tone setter in the Seminoles defense. He was a leader on the field and his intensity never wavered. He did lose a season to a back injury and also suffered a broken tibia that caused him to miss part of the offseason heading into his senior year.
Williams held down the middle in Florida State's 4-3 defense, with a few snaps at outside linebacker mixed in. He played a little further off of the line, which gave him more space to read and explode toward the play.
When a player crosses into Williams' zone, he reacts quickly and follows them. His change-of-direction skills look better on these types of plays than his pro day numbers indicate. Still, on the whole, he isn't as fast or sudden when he is trying to cover as he is when he is chasing the ball. Williams isn't going to be able to hang in man coverage with the NFL's more athletic tight ends.
Williams has the outstanding closing burst of a good "A" gap blitzing inside linebacker, and he will burst through a lane to the quarterback when he spots one. He isn't used that frequently as a blitzer, but he does generate pressure and will blow up a quarterback when he gets the opportunity. Sometimes, he affects the play simply by flashing into the quarterback's field of vision while he is sprinting at them.
Against the Run
When the ball is snapped on a run play, Williams often makes a split-second read and takes off for where he thinks the play is going. He stays low and can get through traffic to get to that spot. Williams uses his hands and extended arms well to ward off blockers, but he is strong enough to defeat blocks or meet a blocker in a one-on-one clash to re-route a running play. He is excellent at stringing a play out toward the sidelines and will often elude blockers to stay on target.
Read and React
Williams reads his keys at the snap and gives his final answer to play diagnosis instantly on many plays. He has the instincts and reactions to mirror an option run out wide while keeping blockers away from his body. Williams seems eager to attack and will play undisciplined or just plain wrong when it comes to knowing where the play is going. When he's not wrong, Williams will sometimes look like he knew the play call before the snap, a step ahead of the offense.
Over-aggressiveness can be an issue here, with Williams playing out of control and sometimes unable to wrap up a running back because of it. When he does wrap up, Williams blots out the runner, with the strength to bear hug and throw the back to the turf. He can also hit with a jolt and stun his target.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Williams could be a very good two-down linebacker who comes off of the field on passing downs. He could be a good fit inside a 3-4 with a strong front three in front of him. He will add to a team's short-yardage defense and probably be a core special teams contributor at first.
Kansas City (5th-UDFA)
New York Giants (5th-UDFA)
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