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NFL Draft Spotlight: Sylvester Williams, DT/DE, UNC

Read more community sourced draft more profiles in our Pound the Table series


There has been a lot of talk about what the Eagles will do with the 4th overall pick, but what about the 2nd round pick? With a draft that has a majority of its depth kicking in on Day 2, it could mean that the 35th overall pick could be the most important of picks in 2013 NFL Draft for the team. The great thing about picking early in every round is that there are guys with first round grades that slip through the cracks and into later rounds. The Eagles could be in prime position to nab a star early on that Friday night in late-April.

One of those special talents, that has seemed to slip through the cracks for most fans, is North Carolina's defensive lineman Sylvester Williams. The big guy has started all 25 games over the last two seasons for the Tar Heels after transferring from Coffeyville Community College in 2011. As a senior, he dominated opponents, posting 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. Those totals went toward him being named to the All-ACC first team in 2012. He is also scheme versatile, with the ability and measurements (6'3," 313 lbs) to play 5-technique in a 3-4 and 3-technique in a 4-3. He can also play nose tackle.

NFL draft analysts are quick to notice Sly's speed off the line despite his size. says Williams "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." CBS Sports mentions that the former Tar Heel "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 linemen. 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."

The draft sites also make note of Williams' ability to dominate due with his size and strength. The NFL website says Williams "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." CBS makes note of his strength, saying that Williams has "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 ballcarriers attempt to run by him."

Now, Sly would not be in the discussion for the 2nd round, if he was flawless. Both sites mention his lack of consistency at times. CBS mentions that Williams "struggles with consistency. Can make the flashy play and then disappear for long stretches." says he "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." Both sites also mention that he relies too heavily on the swim move.

CBS compares Sly to 12-year NFL veteran Gerard Warren (not a bad comparison if I do say so myself) and has him projected as a solid 2nd round pick. compares Williams to Temple graduate, Terrence Knighton, who recently signed with the Broncos.

My Take

Sly is a monster of a man. He is very quick off the line (so much so that I think he got away with a ton of offside penalties in college). He has the ability to penetrate with force and treats guys like rag dolls. He makes a lot of TFL plays and is double teamed quite often. He has shown the ability to anchor and has a lot of potential in the 4-3 under. He could play either the nose tackle (measurements are similar to Brandon Mebane, but Sly is taller by two inches) or five-technique. He's a very natural run defender with an above average tackling ability. Williams gets good burst and gets in the backfield. He is comfortable in both one and two-gap.

Williams is not without his faults. He seems to get tired on passing plays and is not a natural pass rusher. He does have stretches where you pay attention to his teammates on tape because he is not all that active at times. He does get a surge pass the line, but teams tended to have the quarterback purposely sway away from him on passing plays.

I think he can sneak into the first round but is more likely an early-second round guy. He could be a talented and versatile asset for the Eagles as they likely switch schemes. I think he would start off as a five-technique before moving into nose tackle after Sopoaga is let go or retires.

Anyway, check out some of his tapes so you can make your own judgments:

Now that you know more about Big Sly, would you want to grab him in the 2nd round, if the team passes on a nose tackle or five-tech in the first round?

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