Drafted: 2003: 1st rd, 9th by Min
Exp: 12 Seasons
College: Oklahoma State
Career Sacks: 63
Games played: 187
Games Missed: 5
One of the biggest questions going into the off season among Saints fans was what would the team do to address the interior of the defensive line? The Saints would wind up using a 5th round pick on defensive tackle Tyeler Davison out of Fresno St.
But what mostly went under the radar back in mid May was the Saints brought in an old war horse defensive lineman for a workout, Kevin Williams. He wouldn’t sign for another month, inking his one year deal on June 12th. His deal is worth $1 million in base salary with a $495,000 signing bonus making his 2015 cap hit at $1.495 million. I suspect he took that month off to decide on what was best for his family at this stage of his career.
At his age one thing I have to say about Williams is that he’s a realist and was very honest in accessing what he can bring to the table saying –
When you started 12 years in the league it takes a toll. I mean, I probably can’t do 60 plays at maximum effort anymore, but I think I should still do 40, 45 real high-level plays and still make things happen.”
Throughout most of Williams career he played as a three-technique defensive lineman lining up in the gap between the guard and tackle. Last year for Seattle he moved to nose (When they used that front) when starting tackle Brandon Mebane got injured.
That versatility should serve the six time pro bowler well in the multi scheme defense that Rob Ryan deploys.
The tape I decided to look at is only from last year because it should give us a better measuring stick of where he’s at physically. In this play from early in the season Williams is lined up as the left defensive tackle, Peyton Manning audibles out of a pass play with a run up the middle. Williams reads it perfectly hitting the gap forcing the run to the outside where WLB KJ Wright has containment as seen in the screen shots below.
Up next about halfway through the season (against the Cardinals) Williams slides over manning the spot for an injured Brandon Mebane, now he’s primarily over the center. This is the first play from scrimmage and Williams beats Arizona center Lyle Sendlein like a drum and throws the RB Andre Ellington for a four yard loss as seen below.
Now we take a step deeper into the season – The divisional round playoff game against the Panthers. This next set of clips might not look like much but it is effective when you have a defense that flies to the ball as fast as Seattle. The Panthers double team Williams with the center and right guard, Seattle reacts quickly with hitting the gap with DE Micheal Bennett, DT Tony McDaniel and SS Kam Chancellor holding RB Jonathan Stewart for a minimal gain. Notice on the last clip where everyone winds up, like I said the double team really frees up your defense but you have to have the players to take advantage of it as seen below.
Okay now on to the Superbowl, on this play Seattle slides him back to the three technique but instead of on the left Williams is on the right (Versatility is the key) Williams beats his man but reads Tom Brady’s eyes and quickly knows its a screen pass to the Patriots running back Shane Vereen. I have to give credit to the leather head old dawg showing awareness and some quickness snuffing out the screen for only a three yard gain as seen in the clips below.
These four plays from last year are just a small snapshot of Kevin Williams overall game skills but it gives you an idea of a player signing that many looked on as no more than a foot note. He’s no foot note, the guy is an all pro that has refined his technique over the years and understands him limitations at his age plus he’s extremely durable.
Williams also brings Superbowl experience along with Brandon Browner and Max Unger to the locker room – veteran leadership that cannot be under estimated.
I’m curious as to how much Williams has left in the tank and I expect him to be a rotational player but as Williams stated in the quote above, he knows his body and his threshold at this point in his career and if he can deliver on that then I’m sure the interior line questions that we were all asking back in March will ease just a bit.