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2013 NFL Draft: Prospect Profile - DT Sylvester Williams

Today, we take a look at a 4-3 lineman out of North Carolina who the Packers may target as a 3-4 DE transition project, Sylvester Williams.


Initial Impressions

Williams is a fantastically explosive athlete with great reaction to the snap firing out of his stance low and hard consistently.

Rush Defense

When single linemen tried to run block Williams, which was quite rare, Williams proved exceptional. Williams was rarely driven off the ball, firing out low and winning the leverage battle often. Williams could quickly defeat his man and penetrate into the backfield using quick swim moves or drive his man back and toss the blocker aside to attack the ball carrier. Williams would fight blockers attempting to turn him out of run lanes and would fight across their face to go for tackles. Williams would also crash down when run plays were to his inside. Williams didn’t show tremendously good tackling technique however, lunging at ball carriers and attempting arm tackles far too often.

Williams is fantastic against double teams, likely because he is double-teamed on almost every play and has adapted accordingly. Williams fires out low and hard, showing the ability to split double teams, either stepping inside of the linemen or swimming through them. The swim move Williams uses is particularly effective; Williams will stagger out of his stance allowing one of the linemen to lunge at him, punching his inside shoulder down and swimming over it before the other lineman could arrive. If the other offensive lineman did arrive to help during the swim, Williams would club him away, shielding his body while he pursued the ball carrier. When Williams can’t split the double team, he lowers his weight and refuses to get drive off the line, closing run gaps and creating opportunities for his linebackers to scrap over the top and make tackles. Again, the area where Williams struggles the most is tackling.

Pass Rushing

Against single linemen in pass protection, Williams shows a large variety of effective pass rush moves including an explosive swim move, often knocking the blocker’s inside shoulder to prevent their punch from reaching him and then smoothly swimming over while stepping through with his inside foot. Williams also displayed effective rips and shoulder dips to get under linemen and a nasty club move to knock them away. Williams also showed an effective bull rush, driving the lineman back and then timing his toss to both apply pressure on the quarterback and create an opportunity for the sack. Williams’ primary problem when pass rushing is relying too heavily on his swim move and becoming too predictable, allowing offensive linemen to key in on him at times. Williams would benefit heavily from adding variety to his pass rush progression.

Against double teams in pass pro, Williams is able to constantly split double teams, showing the ability to either step in between the linemen and shield them out while stepping through them or quickly swimming the inside lineman before the other arrives. Williams even had a couple plays where he swam over one lineman and then over the other to get into the backfield. When Williams couldn’t split the double team he constantly fought and was often able to deform the pocket. There were times when Williams was even able to work entirely through the double team to create even more pressure or go for sacks. When Williams couldn’t create pressure, he would step back into a shallow zone in order to close passing lanes, but sometimes gave up on the pass rush too soon.


Overall, I see Williams as a fantastic prospect showing all of the tools to be a great 5-technique despite having played in a 4-3 system. Williams reacted appropriately to double teams against the run and the pass, showing the ability to anchor or penetrate the line and make big plays in the backfield. Williams did have his problems, mainly poor tackling and an over reliance on his swim move, but he’s a fantastic and very complete lineman. I would rate Williams as a mid-first round pick. Williams is the best looking prospect I’ve seen thus far on film in my opinion and I if he’s available at 26 I believe he’d be a fantastic option to solidify the Packers defensive line.

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