Draft Profile: Sylvester Williams’ Age Pushes Him To Cowboys’ Board

The following is the 4th in a series of draft profiles for the 1st round pick for the Dallas Cowboys. These profiles are put together with the specific needs of the Cowboys in mind, and is an attempt to examine their resumes and game tape to get an idea of who might fit in best with Dallas come draft day.  Surely, circumstances will dictate what actually happens on that day, but we will profile the 8-10 most likely candidates and try to kick the tires on each and every scenario an how it relates to the Cowboys in 2013 and beyond.

Sylvester Williams
North Carolina
Defensive Tackle
6’2, 313
40 time: 5.01     Bench Press: 27 Reps
November 21, 1988 (24)

As we get closer and closer to draft day, you can’t help but notice that there are plenty of names that we profile that most people think there is no chance the Cowboys will have a chance to take.  Admittedly, Chance Warmack is the ideal Cowboys selection, but since there are actually some analysts who think he might go in the Top 5, we might be wasting internet space even speculating about what he could mean to your local NFL franchise.  

Then, there are others who get very little buzz and not only seem like legitimate candidates at pick #18, but if the Cowboys like him as much as I do, you could make the case that they might be able to drop down 5 spots and pick up an additional Top 60 or Top 100 pick and still get their guy.

Which brings us to today’s study, big Sylvester Williams of North Carolina.  When you talk about a disruptive player who can play up and down the defensive line and trouble the opposition all afternoon, this big dude is just the man you are looking for.  In 25 games with the Tar Heels, he had 9 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss.  He demanded double teams and was the focal point of many game plans to make sure they handle properly.  This, of course, causes a chain reaction where his mates get more favorable routes to the QB because he is eating up a double team.

So, why, you might be asking, is he most likely still available when the Cowboys will pick?  Age.

Williams is 24 years old, and by Thanksgiving Day, he will be 25.  That is a very old player to consider taking in the 1st Round of the NFL Draft – and only 16 months younger than Margus Hunt who is thought of as a very old draftee.  He took a very odd route to the doorstep of professional football, working in a radiator manufacturing facility right out of high school before moving on to 2 years of community college.  He played very little high school football and launched his college football career at a much older age than those around him.

Every year we discuss the guys who are either really, really young (Tyron Smith) or the guys who are really, really old (Margus Hunt).  Overall, given the average life spans of NFL players and further the average career of a draft pick with his original team, we are really wasting time speculating on whether this is one of the few guys who will play a decade with you after drafting him.  That is a very, very small group of players and the likelihood therefore is minute.

However, if you feel strongly enough to take a player in the draft, you had better hope he sees 2 full contracts with you (Hello, Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins), and therefore it is reasonable to consider whether or not you like Williams enough to understand that age could be an issue down the road.  At the same time, the other way to look at that is to say that if Sylvester Williams was a normal 22 year old draftee, then he would not have a chance to make it down to you at #18.

Sylvester Williams looks like an ideal fit at those two defensive tackle positions that the 4-3 demands.  You have the 1-technique who shades the center’s shoulder and the 3-technique who is on the opposite guard’s outside shoulder.  Both players have to be able to have a quick jump at the snap that allows them to penetrate the A-Gap (center-guard) and the B-Gap (guard-tackle).  He must possess the ability to be quick in tight spaces and have the strength to push through and get to his destination when the OL gets its hands on the player.  Williams has both of these attributes for a man his size.

Basically, as I imagined the Monte Kiffin defense, I have had a hard time finding the ideal Warren Sapp comparable.  Either the prospects are too big and slow or are super quick but lack that real power.  Williams is the closest thing I have seen that has great quickness and super power.

He is rough around the edges (as a guy who hasn’t played for years) and will need some coaching.  This added to his 24 year old number will keep him from being the belle of the ball.  But, put the tape on below and tell me he isn’t something the Cowboys currently lack.
Here are some youtube cut-ups for your own personal eye-ball test.  Find the DT who wears #92 and watch:

Vs Virginia Tech

Vs Virginia

Vs NC State

The Case For Dallas Taking Sylvester Williams at #18: This is the first of our profiles where I actually think there is a greater than 50% chance that he is there and exactly what they need.  I would still hope for the 2 guards (Warmack and Cooper) first, but I honestly like Williams more than Sharrif Floyd which either shows you that I am nuts or that I don’t totally care what the crowd thinks (or that I have no projection skills).  Regardless, the Cowboys defensive line has lacked disruptive forces on the interior for some time, and with Jay Ratliff looking like he has already played his best football, I think this would be a wonderful selection.  Yes, the age does give me some manner of pause, but like I said, I think he might be a Top 10 pick with a normal age.  That number represents value and the downside of that number won’t be apparent for 8 years anyway.  If it does become an issue for the 2021 season, count your blessings that he has been a great selection.

The Case Against Dallas Taking Sylvester Williams at #18:  Admittedly, when a player does slide, it is easy to allow the consensus to scare you off.  There is no doubt that he can use some technique work and a few people have seen issues with his motor (which I looked for but haven’t agreed with).  The biggest argument against Williams to me seems to be the idea that the Cowboys need more OL help than DL help at #18.  I am fine with that, but please don’t take a Safety or a WR over this guy.  I really think the Cowboys need to make every effort to go big with their 1st Rounder and perhaps several of their higher picks.  There are a lot of reasons they need to err on the side of the 300 pounders right now for the good of the depth chart.

Honestly, if you can just take the age out of your mind, there might be every reason to consider this guy the best defensive tackle in the draft.  At least from where I sit, I am tempted to do that.  I really think Sylvester Williams is going to be a heck of a player for someone.

So far, of our 4 profiles, I would list them in this order:

1. Chance Warmack – Report Here
2. Jonathan Cooper – Report Here
3. Sylvester Williams
4. Sharrif Floyd – Report Here