Through four games, the Green Bay Packers have received excellent production from their edge rushers. 8.5 sacks through four games for the group is a great number, and all have come from new additions to the roster in 2019.
However, Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith have been on the field a ton in the first quarter of the season, taking the field on 90% and 84% of the team’s defensive snaps, respectively. Kyler Fackrell and Rashan Gary have been picking up a bit of the slack, both hovering in the twenties, but another body could be a benefit to the depth of that unit.
That may be the thought process behind the Packers’ latest reported roster move. On Wednesday afternoon, the Packers have claimed edge rusher Tim Williams on waivers. Williams had played for the Baltimore Ravens over the past three years after Baltimore selected him in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Williams wasted no time in confirming his destination:
— Tim Williams (@JaYbOi225) October 2, 2019
The Packers’ connection to former Ravens players remains strong with this move, and personnel executive Milt Hendrickson surely played a role here. Hendrickson worked for the Ravens for several years up until this offseason, when he made the move back to his home state of Wisconsin, and he was part of the Baltimore scouting staff that vetted and ultimately drafted Williams.
As for the player the Packers are getting, Williams has underperformed relative to his draft status and college pedigree since arriving in the NFL. He has played in just 19 of a possible 36 games over the past three seasons, recording just 18 total tackles and two sacks (both in 2018). However, he was a star at Alabama, where he had back-to-back nine-sack seasons, including a senior year that saw him post 16 total tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Before that year, however, he was used exclusively as a pass rusher, rarely seeing the field on base downs.
Williams appears to be more of a speed rusher, but he tested more poorly than expected at the 2017 NFL Combine. He had a good, though not great, 4.68-second 40-yard dash, but his agility times were disappointing to be sure. In addition, he reportedly failed some drug tests in college and had an arrest for a gun charge, the latter seemingly being the result of a lack of understanding of Alabama’s gun permit laws. Those concerns all helped push him down towards the end of day two of the 2017 Draft.
The role that Williams will play in Green Bay is unclear, but given the similarities between the Packers’ defense and that of the Ravens, one can expect him to be a third-down rusher and special teams contributor to start his Packers career.
In order to free up a spot on the 53-man roster for Williams, the Packers have released tight end Evan Baylis. He would seem a good bet to return to the Green Bay practice squad if he clears waivers.