Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Height: 6' 03"
Weight: 313 lbs.
Arm length: 33.5"
40-yard dash: 5.03
225-lb. bench: 27 reps
Broad jump: 8' 06"
Vertical jump: 26.5"
3-cone drill: 7.93
Short shuttle: 4.80
2011: 54 tackles, 7 TFL, 2.5 sacks
2012: 42 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 6 sacks
Pro Football Weekly (Nolan Nawrocki) Analysis
6th overall, 2nd-highest rated defensive tackle
6.45 (instant starter)
Highly competitive. Very quick off the ball and disruptive. Plays with violence in his hands. Feels blocking pressure and splits double teams. Swats blockers. Can dig heels in dirt and neutralize blocks or shoot gaps. Very good anchor strength -- seldom moved off a spot. Knows how to work the edges. Very good short-area quickness, confirmed by impressive 10-yard splits (1.73 seconds) for a 315-pounder. Good eyes and instincts to sniff out the run and makes plays behind the line. Terrific motor. Outstanding personal and football character -- very demanding of himself and needs to be chased from the weight room. Extremely versatile and can fit anywhere along an odd front and as a plugger or penetrator in an even front. Very tough and will play through injuries (as he did as a senior).
Only played one year of high school football and is still learning how to play the game. Overaged. Can be easily influnced. Weight balloons rapidly and needs to be monitored. Limited upside - maxed out. Marginal 20-yard shuttle time (4.83 seconds) and 3-cone time (7.93 seconds).
Strong, versatile, highly motivated interior presence was slowed by a left ankle injury that he battled through as a senior. Stood out at the Senior Bowl and has the intangibles and work ethic to become a dominating inside force at multiple positions vs. the run and pass.
Mel Kiper's Analysis
16th overall, 4th-highest rated defensive tackle
9.2 (Should start in his first year)
"Williams is a fascinating story because of the random path he took to get to this point. He is a super-competitive hard worker who proved to be a real penetrator on the interior. He gets into the backfield and wreaks havoc, splitting the double-team and making plays. Williams was very impressive at the Senior Bowl practices, seeming to be unblockable during the week in Mobile. He is quick for his size, with a great power/strength quotient. Williams is a guy that offensive line coaches mark and have to figure out how to stop. He brings a pass rush component as well as freeing up other defensive tackles and linebackers to make plays because of the attention he demands. He is deserving of Top 15-25 overall status in this draft."
Draft Insiders (Frank Coyle) Analysis
Rank: 28th overall, 5th-highest rated defensive tackle
Grade:85 (should start in first year)
Notes: "Strong mobile senior tackle completed an excellent ACC career providing big plays consistently from the inside. Sylvester started all 25 games of his two year Tar Heel career after an All American JC stay at Coffeyville CC. He quickly became a fixture in the middle of their talented front line. He showed marked improvement over his career that earned him an invite to the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine after achieving ACC honors over his final two seasons. He is a very strong tackle with a wide frame and the mobility and power that translates well to the field. He has explosive lower body power with the quick feet to gain consistent penetration in the gaps. He is learning to use his hands better to create an early advantage on the down. His hand punch needs further development to take advantage of his power and quickness. His good initial explosiveness allows him to penetrate the backfield and instrumental in him attaining 21 `NC career TFL. He is a good leverage defender who fills the hole well vs. the run, relying on his long arms to keep blockers off his body. He has fine natural movement skills to rank him among the upper echelon of prospects with the skill set to become an early NFL starter. He could also be testeed as a nose tackle in a 3-4 set, but is best suited for the inside in a 4-3 set in a three technique for early NFL playing time. He has learned to use his strong hands early on the down to keep clean, though he needs critical work on his technique to separate and shed blockers to stay alive later on the play. He has learned to use his powerful hand punch to strike an opponent quickly as well as coming off the ball with good leverage and speed. As a pass rusher, he has good initial speed, though limited development and production with marginal secondary moves. He makes many plays in the tackle box and has enough speed to get to the sidelines. He displays good functional strength and balance with the ability to play on his feet and get to the ball with a fine burst within a limited area. He has adequate COD skills and can struggle at times if his initial move is controlled. he has nice short area speed that allows him to gain penetration, though he can get wired to blockers often if his initial move is contained. He disappears for stretches which suggest strength conditions concerns. He has improved nicely reading plays with good reaction and vision to recognize run and react to the pass. He is similar to Dan Williams in size, power and initial quickness. At the Senior Bowl, he performed well and showed good run stuffing skills and the power to push the pocket. He has performed well at a high level of competition and should be able to step in and contribute as a probable rookie starter. Though a developing pass rusher, he has the talent to improve further in that area. Developed prospect with the skill set to be one of the unheralded defenders in this deep DT class. Top 30 player and good addition with early starting potential. He could be a fine late 1st round addition with an expected huge run at the position in the top 50 selections. Type to become a fixture in a 4-3 front with Pro Bowl talent."
62nd overall, 7th-highest rated defensive tackle
80.6 (eventual starter)
Wide-body nose tackle with an unexpected bit of quickness off the snap. Has girth through the middle that makes him tough to move when he looks to anchor. Keeps his eyes in the backfield and locates the ball well (and will sniff out the occasional screen). 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. Violent tackler, will throw ballcarriers to the ground. 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. Can two-gap, moves to either side of his man to corral backs coming between the tackles. Shows good leverage, pad level, and hand quickness to split double teams. When fresh, he will chase a bit more than most players his size against the run as well as give a second effort if his initial pass rush move fails.
Lacks closing speed to get a lot of sacks or make plays outside the box. Overly reliant on the swim move. Does not bull linemen backward very often, won't outquick NFL guards. 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. Can get low and create a pile on the goal line, but gets pushed back when playing high in other short-yardage situations. Doesn't have the athleticism to stop his momentum. Will run himself too far upfield and miss sacks and tackles when he can't stop himself.
Williams quit the game after high school, but missed it enough to try again as a junior college enrollee. He should project as a starting NFL nose tackle, even if he is rotated out regularly against more pass-heavy offenses. Uses his hustle to chase ball carriers (20.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks in two years starting) and strong anchor to hold the line. He has good quickness in relation to his size, but is overly reliant on this athleticism at the moment. Plays both three-technique and one-technique for North Carolina, and it's likely he's been coached/asked to be more of a penetrator than he will be in the NFL. For a player with his size and strength, you'd like to see him use it more. When he decides to get his pads low and anchor against base blocks and double teams, he can be impossible to move. Opposing teams made it a concern to try and run him upfield, or use his active motor in backside pursuit against him (running away from him to get him to chase and wear out).
National Football Post (Russ Lande) Analysis
12th overall, 2nd-highest rated defensive tackle
8.15 (highly productive starting player)
Williams is an innately explosive athlete that also displays impressive agility for a man his size when playing with proper knee bend and leverage. When he comes off the snap low he display very good strength at the POA and the heavy hands needed to take on and shed multiple blockers. He demonstrates outstanding instincts off the snap and excellent read and react skills, allowing him to use his non-stop hustle to make plays he otherwise wouldn't be able to get to.
Too often Williams comes off the snap high and doesn't play with proper knee bend and base. This allows blockers to get into his framework and control him at the POA, as well as prevents him from breaking down in space to consistently finish tackles. He goes to his swim move too often on the pass rush, leading to him being washed out too easily by aggressive blockers.
For all the (justified) hype Sharrif Floyd and Sheldon Richardson have received, Sylvester Williams is every bit the same level of prospect at DT. He possesses an outstanding first step and excellent instincts, which allow him to constantly penetrate gaps and threaten the backfield. When playing with proper base and leverage he demonstrates excellent strength at the POA, and uses his hands aggressively to shed blocks. When rushing the passer he flashes a variety of moves utilizes his natural quickness and power, but he tends to rely too much on his first step quickness and arm-over move. Once he learns to lower his pad level off the ball utilize his full skill set, he will become a highly productive player in almost any defensive scheme. Williams is clearly worth a first round selection, and should be able to make an immediate impact in the NFL with his burst off the ball.
CBS Sports (Rob Rang) Analysis
Rank: 19th overall, 4th-highest rated defensive tackle
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.
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. Versatile. Asked to line up on the nose, defensive tackle and even out wide, showing the ability to hold up to double-teams. Improving awareness versus screens, draws. Good pursuit to the edge. Has only played football for five years and appears to be an ascending player.
Struggles with consistency. Can make the flashy play and then disappear for long stretches. Relies on his swim move to slip past the defender but has only average flexibility, which forces him to turn his back to "get skinny." When doing so, Williams often loses sight of the ball, actually helping his opponent create easy lanes, at times.
Lack of ideal flexibility and awareness is also evident against cut-blocks, as he is often knocked to the ground and has only average quickness in getting back up to get himself back into the play. While he shows good pursuit to the edge, Williams loses steam quickly and doesn't give much effort downfield.
Gerard Warren, DT, New England Patriots -- Like the 12-year veteran of the NFL trenches, Williams possesses precisely the combination of size, power, and burst to dominate the middle. The question for scouts will be if he has the work ethic to dominate consistently.
TFY Draft Insider (Tony Pauline) Analysis
Rank: 22nd overall, 4th-highest rated tackle
Large, athletic defensive lineman with potential at a number of tackle positions. Plays with excellent pad level, gets leverage on opponents, and fluid moving in every direction of the field. Quick off the snap, easily changes direction and gets down the line scrimmage to make plays in space. Keeps his feet moving on contact, displays power in his lower body, and drives blockers off the point to collapse the pocket. Commands double-team blocks and consistently focused on by opponents. Tough, smart, and plays disciplined football.
Possesses average pass rushing skills. Occasionally plays out-of-control. Wears down over the course of games.
Williams is a versatile defensive lineman with a well-rounded game and a player who can line up at nose tackle or as a conventional tackle in a four man line. He needs to better condition himself and improve on the details of his position but Williams comes with terrific upside potential and will produce at the next level if properly coached.
ESPN (Scouts Inc.) Analysis
17th overall, 4th-highest rated defensive tackle
92 (rare prospect, first-rounder)
Versus the Run:
Has surprisingly good first-step quickness for a DT with a bit of a wide-body frame. Fires off the ball and has the initial burst to consistently win the battle for initial positioning. Pad level is inconsistent and he gives ground when loses the battle for leverage. Played undersized in 2012 and was on the move much more often. At a good playing weight (approx. 310lbs) he can be much tougher to move off the ball when he stays low. Shows consistent ability to hold ground when asked to maintain gap integrity as a run defender. Struggles to anchor versus double team but will put up a fight and will split some. Showed ability to shoot gaps and disrupt plays in the backfield against zone runs. Can slip offensive linemen as he works upfield. Has good range for the position and will make some plays in pursuit.
Pass Rush Skills:
Explosive first-step quickness but will pause when reached. Does not show elite burst through the gap and only has adequate closing burst to the QB. Too much finesse as a pass rusher. Would like to see him incorporate more bull rush into his array of moves. Flashes ability to knock blockers off balance with punch but much more effective with slap, rip and swim moves. If anything, he relies on swim move too often. Occasionally when he breaks free, he comes flying in out of control and will be unable to gear down to complete the sack. Gets hands up when sees quarterback start throwing motion and times jumps well. Production is a bit inflated; three of six sacks in 2012 came versus Elon (2) and Idaho (1). Doesn't show enough savvy in setting up blockers but has the lateral mobility to develop effective double move with improved footwork.
Very quick hands. Does not have heavy hands but does have some shock. Very good initial quickness. Above average lateral agility.
Doesn't gear down when teams commit two blockers to him. Chases the run and flashes the ability to make plays outside the tackle box because of it. Above average motor rushing the passer. However, isn't quite relentless and appears to wear down at times.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Bob McGinn) Analysis:
5th-highest rated defensive tackle
Grew up in a tough section of St. Louis, then played his one and only year of high school ball in Jefferson City, Mo. Worked for a year before sustaining his career in junior college. Started all 25 games at weak-side DT for Tar Heels. "The most solid D-lineman that has no chance of busting, solid as a rock, is Sylvester Williams," one scout said. Goes by "Sly." Registered 96 tackles (20½ for loss) and 8½ sacks. "I wouldn't take him in the first round," another scout said. "He is a pretty solid player. I got him in the third (round). He might be a nose. He can be (stout). He was probably 330 last year but lost a bunch of weight because they changed schemes." Led D-tackles in Wonderlic score (25) and hand size (10¾). "I just don't think he's very good," a third scout said. "I'm shocked at all this (attention) he's getting. Absolutely shocked. He's non-instinctive. Just doesn't make any plays. Doesn't play strong. Hopefully, he will go ahead of us. His off-the-field is great. They love him. Works hard. Worked out good. All that."