The Steelers needed to address the defensive end position in this year’s draft, and Colbert & Co. finally took one in the form of Nick Williams in the 7th round.
Like the cornerback position, defensive end could be an issue for the Steelers by the time next season begins. Not only will the contracts of Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood expire after this year ends, 2011 1st round pick Cameron Heyward has not seen much playing time, and Al Woods is the only depth behind those three players on the roster at the moment.
Williams is definitely an intriguing prospect because he only played one year of high school football. A three-year starter at the FCS-level, Nick nevertheless enjoyed a very productive career with the Bulldogs. Last season was the best of Williams’ short career, and the redshirt senior registered 31 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, and led Samford in sacks with a total of 6.0.
While the former Bulldog is definitely a “project” of a prospect, he definitely has a number of things working in his favor right now.
Already, Nick possesses a frame (6’4″ 309 lbs.) perfectly suited for him to make the transition to the five-technique defensive end position. In addition to his frame, Nick’s long arms (34.125″), big hands (10.25″), and deceptive quickness will definitely come in handy for him when he is asked to gap-clog and shed blocks aside at the point of attack.
Best of all though is the fact that Williams will be able to work with longtime defensive line coach John Mitchell who has turned late-round and UDFA prospects into effective starters at the professional level over his career. I am sure that Mitchell is excited to work with an athletic yet raw prospect like Williams, and I for one am excited to watch the former Samford defensive lineman progress over the years.
While this pick is not particularly “flashy,” it is a sensible one for rebuilding purposes. The Steelers need help at the five-techniques, and Williams could very well be a “diamond in the rough.”
Final Grade: B-
Follow me on Twitter: @DominicDiTolla
Follow & Like “NPC” on Facebook: Nice Pick, Cowher
Players Contract Info. Provided By: Spotrac.com