At some point the Steelers had to take an inside linebacker today. While many hoped that they would fill the need with Penn State’s Michael Mauti, Colbert & Co. elected to draft Florida State’s Vince Williams instead with the final pick of the 6th Round.
I can’t say that I blame Pittsburgh’s brass for wanting to add more depth at inside linebacker. The depth behind Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons is non-existent at the moment.
Veteran Stevenson Sylvester was not even tendered as a Restricted Free Agent this offseason, and has been mistake-prone on special teams over the last couple of seasons. Worst of all though, Sean Spence is still recovering from the gruesome knee injury he sustained last year.
Williams was a two year starter with the Seminoles during his career, and was a huge part of Florida State’s linebacker-rotation during that time. Overall, Vince recorded a combined 113 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery during the last two seasons. In addition, Williams was also was a team-captain for the Seminoles last year.
While Vince’s strength is not his speed, he is a more than capable run defender. The former Seminole’s “coke machine-build” (6′ 247 lbs.) and nastiness between the tackles should serve him well at the next level. Thus, I believe that he could be a developmental “strongside-inside linebacker” in Pittsburgh’s defensive scheme after a couple of years of learning under linebackers coach Keith Butler.
While Vince projects to be more of a”2-down linebacker,” he will likely be utilized most on the kickoff and punt return coverage units for most of his career. This of course is good for the Steelers, because their coverage units last season were undisciplined and downright inconsistent for essentially the entirety of the 2012 regular season.
While not as enormous Mauti’s health issues, Williams also has some injury concerns heading into the N.F.L. Vince missed the entire 2009 season due to a back injury and most of spring practice last year with a cracked tibia.
Injury concerns aside, I for one am intrigued to see how Williams can help to improve the Steelers’ special teams units this season. Moreover, I am happy to see that Pittsburgh at least tried to add more developmental depth at the inside linebacker position.
Final Grade: C+
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