Denver desperately needs a nose tackle next season if they plan on competing defensively. Often cited as the fulcrum of a defense, the nose position is vital to a 3-4’s success. Wade Phillips knows that, we all know that. And yet, for some reason, Elway let Pot Roast walk and made only a small, late round effort to bolster the nose position. That is because Dove Valley trusts 2013 1st rounder Sylvester Williams to step up.
I know Broncos country, we heard this story last year. After a very promising rookie year, Williams was awful last year. To call last season a disappointment would be an understatement. He did not record a sack last season. He also had a -9.9 overall grade, as well as a -10.7 run grade from PFF last year (subscription required). Pro Football Focus however, does see some silver linings in Sly’s game last year. Despite only playing 248 pass rush snaps, Williams did record 16 pressures, with a 4.8 pass rush productivity rating. This was tops on the team among interior rushers. Kubiak and Phillips both seem high on him. They gave the following comments to Ben Swanson of DenverBroncos.com:
“I think Sly has done an exceptional job,” Phillips noted on Thursday following practice. “I feel real good about him. About four of the guys are really, I think they’re moving forward really well. I think we’ve got a group that can come in and play and do some good things for us and Sly has been exceptional. I think he’s really taken over the nose guard position. … I’m really pleased with where he is.”
Head Coach Gary Kubiak agreed, and said that Williams and the defensive line have responded well to the coaching of defensive line coach Bill Kollar, who has a great reputation for getting the most out of his players.
It is definitely good to see coaches gush about an under performing player like that. Williams has many traits Phillips looks for in a nose. For starters, if we average out the size of his nose tackles post 2000 (which is necessary since players were, on average, smaller before then) we get a nose tackle listed at around 6’3, 313 pounds. According to his combine weigh in, Sylvester Williams is exactly 6’3, 313 pounds. That is a eerie. He also has long arms, and a strong build. Not to mention that, at that size, he ran a 5.03 second forty, while still benching 225 27 times. That is freak level talent. Not to mention that his draft profile pro comp was to, you guessed it, Terrance Knighton.
Williams’s run defense grade was miserable last year. I’m not going to argue that. He did however come out at a +.6 in pass rush (subscription required) and obviously has the skill set to be a fixture at nose. It’s now just a question of whether or not Bill Kollar can work his magic, the talent is there.