The 28th overall pick by the Denver Broncos surprised some, as they went with defensive tackle Sylvester Williams from North Carolina. Stopping the run was not a problem for the Broncos last year and they finished as the league’s third best run defense allowing only 91.1 yards per game on average. The team addressed the defensive tackle position in free agency, as the Broncos re-signed free agent Kevin Vickerson earlier this offseason. They also added a player familiar with the Jack Del Rio defense when they signed free agent Terrance Knighton. The veteran played under Del Rio when the two were with the Jacksonville Jaguars and many thought he would automatically start next to Vickerson. That may not be the case now that Denver has added Williams.
Williams has the advantage of youth on his side and is a player known for his high motor. He can be a dominant force on the inside because of his combination of size and strength. Williams knows how to use his hands to disengage from blockers quickly and cannot be bullied by opponents. His hands are the largest (10 ¾) of any defensive tackle in this draft class. Playing through the whistle is not a problem for Williams as he is a constant thorn in the sides of his adversary. I recently spoke with his former college coach, Larry Fedora and he said Williams would ‘represent the city of Denver well.’
Williams does sometimes wear down toward the end of games because of his relentless style. The Broncos' strength and conditioning coaches should work on his stamina before the season begins. Denver had a similar concern last year with their top pick, second-round defensive tackle Derek Wolfe. We didn't see Wolfe wear down at all last season because of the work he had done with Luke Richesson.
We could see Williams begin his pro career as a backup, rotational player on the Broncos defensive line. Knighton should be with the first team when training camp starts in August, but Williams could work up the depth chart quickly. If he's able to work on his stamina and speeding up his play recognition, then Williams could become a starter before season's end. At that time the Broncos should be making a strong push for the playoffs on a journey some predict will end at the Super Bowl. Having a player like Williams fresh and in the starting lineup at that time will greatly help their chances of playing for a championship title.