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2013 NFL Draft Prospects: Sylvester Williams Scouting Profile

This Sylvester is a pretty big Cat.


Continuing with our look at draft prospects for the Denver Broncos, we come to a man with a story of perseverance. I’m not so sure you could say he is an underdog, but his struggle to accomplish what he has so far, attests to his character and drive--two assets that pave the way for success. His name is Sylvester Williams and he is a 6'3", 313 lb. Defensive Tackle out of North Carolina.

You see, Sylvester had all but given up with the game of football. A 4-star prospect out of high school, Williams wasn’t on anyone’s recruiting list because he wasn’t attending many of his classes in high school. After working for awhile at a factory that manufactures radiator parts for large trucks, he decided he wanted to earn his degree. He enrolled at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas and began working toward that degree and playing some football. After 2 years there, he transferred to UNC.

Now he has an Agent (Todd France and Brian Ayrault at Five-Star Athlete Management) and an NFL future. Williams is ranked 92nd overall and 9th among 218 Defensive Tackle prospects across the nation. His pre-Combine 40 Time is 5.08 seconds and he is expected to be taken in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft in April.


#92 Sylvester Williams

After a JUCO season that produced 52 Tackles, 12.5 Tackles For Loss, two Sacks and five blocked kicks in 2010, Sylvester moved on to UNC and exceeded everyone’s expectations with his outstanding play.

In 2011 – (Junior) Williams was one of four UNC defensive players to start all 13 games. He finished with 54 Tackles, 7.0 Tackles For Losses, 2.5 Sacks, five Quarterback Hurries, three Pass Breakups, one Forced Fumble and one Fumble Recovery.

His career totals as a Tar Heel are: 25 games, 96 Tackles, 20.5 TFL, 8.5 Sacks, 4 Pass Breakups, 1 Interception,a Forced Fumble and one Recovery.

Sylvester was born on November 21, 1988. He graduated from Carolina in December with a degree in Communications.



GRADE 80.6

Williams thought he was done with football after high school, as he only played one season and wasn't on anyone's radar as a recruit. In fact, he nearly dropped out of high school because he wasn't going to class. But after working at a factory (Modine Manufacturing Company, whose products include vehicle radiators) for a while post-graduation and seeing similarly sized players on the field at a Kansas Jayhawks game, Williams realized that he could go to college using his natural size and ability on the football field.

He walked on at Coffeyville Community College, and by the time he finished his second season (honorable mention JC All-American with 12.5 tackles for loss and five blocked kicks), several major college programs were hot on his trail. Williams decided on Chapel Hill as his preferred destination, immediately entering the starting line-up in 2011. His 54 tackles, seven for loss and 2.5 sacks made him stand out even with the great talent all along the Tar Heels’ defensive line.

STRENGTHS Wide body nose tackle with an unexpected bit of quickness off the snap. Has girth through the middle that makes him tough to move when he looks to anchor. Keeps his eyes in the backfield and locates the ball well (and will sniff out the occasional screen). Uses strong hands and upper body to rip past and push aside lesser linemen. Good flexibility and balance, showing the ability to bend and roll his hips through contact off the ball and keep a wide base to anchor against base blocks and doubles. Violent tackler, will throw ball carriers to the ground. Has enough short-area quickness to charge through the A-gap off the snap. Spins off blocks when moving forward to threaten hesitating quarterbacks or get a hand on running backs in the backfield. Can two-gap, moves to either side of his man to corral backs coming between the tackles. Shows good leverage, pad level, and hand quickness to split double teams. When fresh, he will chase a bit more than most players his size against the run as well as give a second effort if his initial pass rush move fails.
WEAKNESSES Lacks closing speed to get a lot of sacks or make plays outside the box. Overly reliant on the swim move. Does not bull linemen backwards very often, won’t out-quick NFL guards. Flashes quickness off the snap, but gets stuck on blocks too often when tired, and loses ability to get to the ball even if able to disengage. Can get low and create a pile on the goal line, but gets pushed back when playing high in other short-yardage situations. Doesn’t have the athleticism to stop his momentum. Will run himself too far upfield and miss sacks and tackles when he can’t stop himself and break down. Turns 24 during the 2012 season.

NFL COMPARISON Terrance Knighton

BOTTOM LINE Williams quit the game after high school, but missed it enough to try again as a junior college enrollee. He should project as a starting NFL nose tackle, even if he is rotated out regularly against more pass-heavy offenses. Uses his hustle to chase ball carriers (20.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks in two years starting) and strong anchor to hold the line. He has good quickness in relation to his size, but is overly reliant on this athleticism at the moment. Plays both three-technique and one-technique for North Carolina, and it's likely he’s been coached/asked to be more of a penetrator than he will be in the NFL. For a player with his size and strength, you'd like to see him use it more. When he decides to get his pads low and anchor against base blocks and double teams, he can be impossible to move. Opposing teams made it a concern to try and run him upfield, or use his active motor in backside pursuit against him (running away from him to get him to chase and wear out).


Even with the firing of Butch Davis nearly two years ago, the defensive line talent (Davis' specialty) continues to flow out of Chapel Hill.

Davis and his staff recruited Williams out of Coffeyville Junior College, where he'd starred despite playing just one season of high school football. In his sophomore season at the JUCO level Williams recorded 52 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and five blocked kicks. He immediately established himself as a standout once at UNC, as well, starting all 13 games for the Heels and recording similar numbers despite the jump in competition (54 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks).

With opponents often shifting their protections to defend him in 2012, Williams' overall tackle numbers dipped to "just" 42 stops. Utilizing his unique combination of cat-like quickness and a lethal swim move, Williams emerged as one of the more dangerous big play interior defenders in the entire country as a senior, however, earning First Team All-ACC honors from both coaches and the media with a career high 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.

Stout enough to control the action on the nose and quick enough to intrigue teams as a penetrating three-technique defensive tackle, Williams boasts clear first round talent. But with consistency a concern, teams could be hesitant to gamble considering the depth at the position in the 2013 draft.

Strengths: Possesses a naturally large, thick build. Possesses a very quick first step and a lethal swim move (both arms, if necessary) to slip past interior lineman. Varies his burst off the snap, lulling his opponent into relaxing and can make the explosive tackle behind the line of scrimmage before the ball-carrier has had time to make his first cut. Good strength for the bull rush. Has the strength to rip his arms free to disengage and shows a quick, closing burst. Very good strength for the drag-down tackle as ball-carriers attempt to run by him. Versatile. Asked to line up on the nose, defensive tackle and even out wide, showing the ability to hold up to double-teams. Improving awareness versus screens, draws. Good pursuit to the edge. Has only played football for five years and appears to be an ascending player.

Weaknesses: Struggles with consistency. Can make the flashy play and then disappear for long stretches. Relies on his swim move to slip past the defender but has only average flexibility, which forces him to turn his back to "get skinny." When doing so, Williams often loses sight of the ball, actually helping his opponent create easy lanes, at times. Lack of ideal flexibility and awareness is also evident against cut-blocks, as he is often knocked to the ground and has only only average quickness in getting back up to get himself back into the play. While he shows good pursuit to the edge, Williams loses steam quickly and doesn't give much effort downfield.

Compares To: Gerard Warren, DT, New England -- Like the 12-year veteran of the NFL trenches, Williams possesses precisely the combination of size, power, and burst to dominate the middle. The question for scouts will be if he has the work ethic to dominate consistently.--Rob Rang

Sylvester Williams Scouting Report

Grade: 7.1 (Grading Scale)

+Incredible raw power
+Impressive burst off the snap which allows him to split gaps with ease
-Too often fails to generate power from lower half and relies on upper body
-Down the line quickness in pursuit less than adequate, more of a north/south athlete

+High motor with aggressiveness and gives great effort on every snap
+One offsides penalty in two seasons
-Discipline level not very high, will run himself out of plays
-Tries to chase down plays to a fault, tires himself out quickly
-Has shown stamina issues
-Struggles with two gap responsibility, wants to penetrate into backfield

Pass Rush:
+Adequate variety of pass rush moves including a swim, club, and spin
+Has excellent quickness on spin move and can go to either side
-Can become too passive as a rusher at times if his initial move fails
-Bullrush is severely underutilized, can become somewhat predictable as a rusher
-Lacks technician qualities needed of an interior pass rusher, often wins on natural ability alone

Run Support:
+Does well to spin back into the hole if initial push is taking him away from the play
+/-Adequate strength to handle a double team but only shows it a few times on tape, too inconsistent
-Slow to diagnose plays and read blockers, reactions delayed often
-Takes himself out of too many plays by shooting gaps and getting too far upfield
-Doesn’t anchor and utilize strength enough, too often wants to chase down plays from snap of the ball

+Started to develop a spin move as a senior, effectiveness was inconsistent at best but is something to build on
+Technique has some untapped potential, flashes extremely heavy and powerful hands
+Quick off the snap, can shoot into contact with low pad level, but too often pops up afterwards
-Overall technique is extremely raw and undeveloped
-Lack of hand placement limits disengage ability, allows blockers to lock him up too easily
-Extremely over-reliant on the swim move, exposes chest to blockers in the process
-Overall pad level is too high, result of him wanting to make every play with athleticism instead of power

Sylvester Williams is that guy who could run you right over on almost every snap, but would rather showcase his athleticism and run around you. Unfortunately, that style doesn’t translate as well as the power game could for him. He’s a high potential prospect with quite a learning curve ahead of him. Williams only played one year of high school football before going the junior college route. So he only has five years of real football experience, only two of which were in Division I. He’s still learning the game and keeps showing improvement. Being so far behind in development is what will keep him from being the top ten pick he could have been otherwise. Even so, his natural ability and drive on the field will catch the eye of a team earlier than some may think. When he gets in the league, it will be all about the adjustment period and how well he can learn schematic responsibilities. He’s proven to be a quick learner throughout his entire football career, which is what may make him a first round pick in April.

Beyond The Draft
Posted on October 11, 2012

Good length
Stout build, thick lower body
Excellent overall power at the POA
Relentless effort to QB
Good balance
Excellent short area quickness and lateral movement
Able to generate power in order to push pocket and create penetration
Properly fights across O-Lineman’s face
Understands gap integrity
Displays a violent disengage
Ideal leverage
Demonstrates a pass rushing arsenal
Looks to "Win" with quickness (Relies on swim move)
Consistently attacks half man
Displays an impressive get off/first step
Great hand violence in run and pass game
Exhibits ideal instincts (Able to feel screen game)
Display ability to split double teams with quickness

Needs to keep his shoulders square to LOS in run game
Would like to see more of an initial six inch punch versus run game, tends to lean into O-Lineman (Relies on quickness)
Far too often on the ground
Would like to see more consistency with hand placement
Needs more consistency in motor
Exhibits good pad level but needs to be cautious of allowing it to rise
At times looks to "Win" with quickness (Swim move) versus run game, tends to exposes body

Having played only one year of High School Football and two years of Junior College Football, Sylvester Williams possesses a huge upside. After evaluating film on Williams I came away impressed. There is a lot to like about his game. Williams displays an excellent get off, short area quickness and overall power but the thing that I found intriguing is his ability to rush the passer. Not only is it rare to find a collegiate edge rusher with an arsenal of hand movement let alone an interior defensive lineman. Williams is projected as a 3-Technique in a 4-3 scheme.

Williams has an ideal frame for the defensive tackle position, he is a well proportioned 300 pounder that doesn't carry a lot of excess weight. He has exceptionally quick hands that let's him gain an immediate advantage over the offensive linemen he faces as he is able to dictate contact to them. Well conditioned and doesn't seem to slow down as the game wears on, despite playing nearly every snap on defense - Scott Kennedy,

NFLDraft Scout


Sylvester Williams Makes Most of Opportunity

Sylvester Williams vs. Clemson / Virginia Tech (2011)

Sylvester Williams vs Virginia Tech (2012)

He'll be almost 25 when he gets his first snap in the NFL and he’s only been playing football for 5 years (2 in Division 1), so Sylvester is behind in his development. He has the tools needed--the strength to Bull Rush and some technique (an overused Swim Move) to get by Linemen. Williams can play either DT position in a 4-3 or DE in a 3-4 and has a quick first step. He is certainly worth a look in the 3rd round for the Denver Broncos at #90 overall.

Go Broncos!

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