Today we continue our annual 90 player roster breakdown in 90 days. If you missed the previous player breakdowns, you can check them out here.
Name: Sylvester Williams
Height: 6'2" Weight: 313
Age: 27 Experience: 4th
College: North Carolina
Sylvester "Sly" Williams was drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft after being named first-team All-American and All-ACC in his senior season for the UNC Tar Heels.
Elway continued his defensive trend (and at the time, his D-line trend) in first draft picks when grabbing Williams. Although he hasn't produced the impact one would typically expect from a 1st rounder, he was considered a bargain at #28 back in 2013 as many folks expected him to go before that, including Elway.
However, Sly has improved every year, with last year being his most productive, in Wade Phillips' new scheme. Last year he had a career best 25 tackles and 2.5 sacks. His stats are not going to blow anyone away, but most of his work at NT won't show up on the stat sheet.
Pressure from Ware thanks to Sly pic.twitter.com/dx2B1RfX3D— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) February 10, 2016
Sly Williams is way better than everyone gives him credit for. I'll captain this ship. Gets Ware & Miller .5 sacks pic.twitter.com/FEGCD4JllD— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) September 18, 2015
The Good: Coming out of college, Sly was pegged as more of a penetrating nose tackle who could use his quickness to disrupt the backfield. He is often described as a "dancing bear" because of his movement skills. I think this year we finally got to see him in a scheme that better fit his skill set, and he had his best season of his career.
His athleticism is underrated. I have seen him run plays down out on the edge near the sideline, or ten yards down the field. He also has a sneaky spin move (demonstrated above) that was on display during the Super Bowl. Speaking of the Super Bowl, Sylvester played perhaps his best game of his career against the Panthers that night with Pro Football Focus grading him out higher than Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson for his performance.
Below is another great example of his quickness and explosion.
Sly Williams getting underneath & overpowering Mitch Morse for the tackle. Man the big fella looks good pic.twitter.com/B85Sy6ocCR— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) September 18, 2015
The Bad: While he showed some improvement this past year, Sly has still not shown the pass rushing prowess to stay on the field consistently on third downs. You would like your former first round pick to be contributing more than just 48% of the snaps, which is what he did last year.
Given that he has never cracked more than 50% of the defensive snaps in his career (26%, 39%, 48% respectively), he has largely been a disappointment. Hopefully he will show something in a contract year, but I don't think he will ever be more than a good 2-down run stuffing NT.
Obviously Pro Football Focus is not the be all, end all, just another piece of the puzzle, which is why I include it.
Williams on option declined: Could mean hits FA earlier, and said, "This gonna be my best year. With Wade and Bill, I will only get better."— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) May 2, 2016
Status: I hope the above is true and Sly balls out of his mind in his contract year and makes himself a ton of money somewhere. Obviously Sylvester is a lock for the roster this year and will likely see the bulk of the NT snaps, but I just don't see him sticking past this year. We can find 50% of the defensive snaps elsewhere, likely for less money as Sly is already 27, he will be shooting for a big payday to secure himself for the next few years while he can.
I say, more power to him. It's a win-win for both parties. We get great production this year, and someone else gets to overpay for him.
We'll see what happens this year on the line. Hopefully Sylvester can finally live up to the first round billing in his second year in Wade's defense.