Saturday, December 16, 2017

kevin williams

Optimists would tell you that the Vikings are stacked at the defensive tackle position, so much so that some surprising names might be on their list of final cuts, and that it is very difficult to predict who will start next to Kevin Williams this season.

Skeptics, on the other hand, may have a bit of a different outlook on the situation.  They may look at the positional depth chart and say the Vikings have a whole lot of question marks with no sure-fire answers.  An aging veteran forced to take a pay cut in Williams.  A first round selection that might look promising, but is still a mere rookie, in Sharrif Floyd.  An underperforming nose tackle Letroy Guion.  An unproven and inexperienced player in Christian Ballard.  A late round rookie in Everett Dawkins.  The quantity is undoubtedly there, but no we must wait to see if quality emerges from the pack.

One name that should not be dismissed as a possible starter on day one is veteran Fred Evans.

“The coaches keep telling me that, hey, we need to give Fred a shot to compete for the No. 1 job,” Leslie Frazier told 1500 ESPN on Sunday.

The reason that Evans is suddenly getting serious attention, after six seasons with the team, are a direct result of how much better he looked than Guion down the stretch last season despite playing fewer snaps.  What really separates him was his ability to come up with a pair of big plays that included a crucial sack against Houston and a big-time third down stop against Green Bay.

“Based on (what Evans) did coming down the stretch — he played some lights-out football for us,” Frazier said. “He really stepped up. And we’ve been harping on that with him, his consistency, and he showed that late in the season. So, we’ll see. We’ll just see if he can continue to elevate his play, and if he does, he’ll be in line for more snaps with the first unit.”

Frazier says “more snaps” with the first team because that is the role Evans played when the Vikings opened up OTAs last week.  That is a pretty good sign for a player that has never been much more than a rotational guy in his seven NFL seasons.  The previously mentioned depth at the position means Evans, and the rest of the defensive tackles, is still sure to be a part of a rotation this season, but becoming a starter would be a huge step forward for the 29 year old Evans.

If he does become a starter, then the Vikings will be facing even more drama next offseason, as he joins the rest of the starting line as a 2014 free agent.  Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen, Lawrence Jackson, and George Johnson are all entering contract years in 2013 along with Evans.

With three first round picks already in the fold, and another two days of the Draft left to play out, I am dusting of the ol’ “Welcome To The Big Show” feature which will detail each of our selections.

SHARRIF FLOYD, DT, FLORIDA

Attributes

Floyd possesses a great mix of size and athleticism which will help him continue to be a versatile player as his career moves to the next level.  He possesses a nice arsenal of pass rush moves and a very quick first step that could help the Vikings move the pocket against opposing offenses.

Height:  6’3″

Weight:  297 pounds

Arm Length:  31 3/4″

Hand Size:  10 1/8″

Combine Results

Forty:  4.92 seconds

Vertical Jump:  30″

Broad Jump:  106″

3-Cone:  7.40 seconds

20-Yard Shuttle:  4.75 seconds

Pro Day Results

Floyd reportedly “tweaked” his ankle at the NFL’s Scouting Combine and he did not participate in Florida’s March 12th Pro Day.  Ten days later he drew representatives from 14 NFL teams to a rescheduled workout where he put on an impressive display.  Floyd chose to stand on his Combine numbers in regards to the timed drills, but he impressed onlookers by going through drill after drill with a certain tenaciousness.

“I wasn’t going to stop until he told me to stop,” Floyd said of the position drills. “I wasn’t going to say, ‘I’m done.'”

Floyd’s pro day was one of many positive steps in his pre-Draft regimen that had analysts believing he was a top-five prospect.

Today, it was revealed that defensive tackle Kevin Williams was part of a move that seemed obvious to us all months ago, as he restructured his contract with the Vikings which will gain the Vikings about $2.5 million in cap space.

His previous deal had already paid out all guarantees and we’ve known for a long time that Williams was essentially a year-to-year at-will employee, and the Vikings could have cut him at any point this offseason with no cap penalties had they decided to do so.  The Vikings could have done just that to avoid his $7 million salary that he was scheduled to make in both 2013 and 2014.

Instead, Williams was apparently willing to take a paycut in return for some guaranteed money.

His new deal runs through this upcoming season only, and the $4.9 million salary is not only considerable, but is also fully guaranteed.  This pretty much makes it a certainty that he will be a Vikings for one more season, at the least.

Some will consider this move a sign that Williams is in his last year with the Vikings, but I’m not sure it means that.  Williams will be 34 years old next offseason, and the Vikings may simply be able to let the market establish itself for an aging tackle on the decline, and still opt to sign him if he is willing to play for a reasonable salary.  He will potentially join defensive linemen Jared Allen, Brian Robison, and Everson Griffen as free agents next offseason which could mean a significant change to the defensive line is on the horizon.

For now, however, it appears the D-Line is staying mostly intact.

What I don’t understand, and never will, is why it took so long for the Vikings to work out an obviously needed deal with a lifelong Viking.  The move has seemed so obvious for so long.  Even Williams himself brought up the issue about 10 months ago.  This issue of over-cautiousness (or procrastination) on Rick Spielman’s part has really annoyed me this offseason, not only because we saw other teams land more quality players in free agency, but because the same type of mentality led to what I will always consider a black mark in Vikings history.

[Note:  Want to see a list of every player featured in our “Draft Target” segment?  Click here to visit the Offseason Tracker where there will be a list of all these players.  Check back often as there are plenty more to come!]

Last season the Vikings put Letory Guion in front of a relatively untested Jasper Brinkley, who played in front of young group of safeties.  As a result, the defense experienced their fair share of struggles in the middle of the defense.  The safety position was upgraded greatly when the Vikings selected Harrison Smith in the first round last year and it is widely believed the Vikings will find their starting middle linebacker in the Draft this year.

Still, with Kevin Williams getting older and carrying a large cap hit, the Vikings should be considered to be in the market for some help at the defensive tackle position, as well.  A large run stuffer that can conjure up memories of Pat Williams would be a nice addition and Georgia’s John Jenkins could be a nice fit.

At 6′ 4″ and 346 pounds, Jenkins is a huge and athletically gifted run stopping nose tackle that commanded double teams at Georgia.  His broad frame and good arm length provides opposing runners with a large obstacle to try and surpass, and he is not going to be moved off of the line of scrimmage, so they have to go around.  He also has the size and brute strength to disrupt the pocket on occasion,  but is unlikely to be a dependable pass rusher at the next level despite an intimidating bull rush.

Similar to Pat Williams, Jenkins is occasionally going to take offensive linemen by surprise with his agility and quickness.  Not only is he quick at the point of attack, but he can move around pretty well between the tackles for a guy of his size.

After transferring out of Gulf Coast Community College, the senior played two years in Georgia.  In 2011, he had 28 tackles, seven for a loss, and 10 quarterback pressures.  In 2012, he notched 50 tackles, 2 for a loss, and a sack.  He has played against elite talent with varying results.  He had a nice performance matching up against this year’s top guard Chance Warmack, but struggled greatly against D.J. Fluker in the SEC Championship Game.

I know that teams running a 3-4 defense will value a guy like Jenkins more than 4-3 teams (or the hack bloggers that cover them), but I honestly view Jenkins as more of a second round talent instead of the first rounder many believe him to be.  Part of that, at least for 4-3 teams like the Vikings, is because he has to be an assumed two-down player.

His positional value may indeed cause him to be drafted in the first round, but if teams aren’t overly impressed with his game tape then he could fall further than expected.  Combine stretches of being invisible on tape with questions about his work ethic and conditioning, not to mention a two game suspension for academic reasons, and he might actually slip to the middle of the second round or later.  At that point, and not really any earlier, I would consider Jenkins to be a great target for the Vikings to pursue.

UPDATE:  As soon as I posted this I came across this recent noteworthy article about Jenkins.  He is apparently working hard and has dropped his weight all the way down to 332 pounds.

 

Kevin Williams is notoriously quiet when it comes to talking with the press or getting overly animated about the football business.

On Monday, however, he couldn’t contain his confusion as to why the Vikings would trade one of their best young playmakers.

You’re like, ‘What’s going on? We’re going backwards at this point in (my) career,’ ” Williams said to the Pioneer Press. “Last year, we counted on a lot of young guys and played well, but to get rid of one of your top offensive players, I don’t even know who we have at receiver. Jarius Wright is the only guy we’ve got. Hopefully we have a plan in place and it works out for us.”

Williams went on to talk about Harvin as a competitive teammate but gave no indication, as seems to be a trend with Vikings players, that he ever crossed any sort of line in the form of a tantrum.

“Nobody had any problems with Percy,” Williams continued.  “He went about his business, did his work. Sometimes, his passion for what he did on the football field got taken out of context. He was real passionate about what he did. That’s good for ballplayers.”

Williams also said that he has not been approached about a change to his contract status, he is under contract for $7.5 million annually for 2013 and 2014, and could potentially see his long term replacement drafted with the first round pick gained from Seattle in the Harvin trade.  Once that replacement is in hand the Vikings may then want to talk about restructuring his contract, or else that rookie might end up replacing him sooner rather than later.

Get Social

2,940FansLike
266Subscribers+1
10,895FollowersFollow