Denver Broncos unsung heroes: DL Sylvester Williams


This week’s unsung hero is third year Nose Tackle, Sylvester Williams. A former 1st round pick, Williams has enjoyed the most successful season of his career in 2015 as the anchor for the stellar Broncos defense.  Let’s take a closer look at the third year Bronco.

Name: Sylvester Williams

Size: 6’2, 313 lbs

Age: 27

College: North Carolina

Drafted in the 1st Round by the Denver Broncos in the 2013 NFL Draft

2015 Stats: 21 tackles, 3 sacks

Career Stats: 61 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 pass deflection

The Story: Most 1st round picks (especially starters) aren’t considered unsung heroes because of their obvious draft

Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive tackle Sylvester Williams (92) against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Colts defeated the Broncos 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

status. In a way, that’s what makes Williams’ story very unique.  In a defense that has been beyond fantastic throughout this entire season, a starter and first round pick like Sylvester Williams is often overshadowed by his defensive counterparts.

His position is far from flashy, but it could be classified as “unsung” in every sense of the word. When most football players look to add more stats to their resume, Williams relishes in contributing to the play rather than making the play himself.

When you play Nose Tackle in the NFL, you’re expected to be selfless.  Stats don’t matter very much, but setting up the play for a teammate to get that stat does. Nose Tackle’s are often double and even triple teamed at the line of scrimmage, allowing their defensive peers to make the crucial plays.

Despite the first round draft status, Williams’ football career is definitely unheralded, if not incredible.  After playing only one year of football in High School, Williams graduated with no scholarship offers and starting working at a manufacturing plant to make a living.  After spending over a year in manufacturing, Williams decided to give football(and education) another try.

He enrolled at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas and starred on their football team for two seasons before transferring to the University of North Carolina. After two successful seasons at UNC, Williams entered the 2013 NFL draft as one of the highest rated defensive players.  Despite his ranking as a top 15 prospect by many Draft analysts, Williams fell to the Broncos with the 28th overall pick in that year’s draft. Like all rookies, a learning curve was expected in the first year.

There were some ups and downs, but ultimately, his third year proved to be the charm.  With a transition to a 3-4 defense and focus on allowing players to make the most of their natural abilities, Williams was allowed to thrive in his role as the starting Nose Tackle. In a typical 3-4 defensive scheme, Nose Tackles are expected to be very heavy (320+ pounds) and collapse the pocket.

While Wade Phillip’s scheme expects much of the same from his Nose Tackle, he prefers lighter and more athletic Nose Tackle’s that can make disruptive plays on top of clogging up running lanes.  Fortunately for Williams, his 313 pound frame with untapped athleticism served as the right combination for Phillips defense and it shows. With his best statistical season to date, Williams looks like a player that has finally gotten the hang of the NFL.

On a team filled premiere playmakers, it’s incredible to think that a former first round pick in his rookie contract(especially one that starts on a great defense) is overlooked, but Williams’ combination of on the field play and off-field upbringing has earned him this week’s title of “Unsung Hero”.  I look forward to seeing Williams remain the Nose Tackle for the Broncos for years to come and I hope that he begins to get the proper amount of recognition that he deserves.

On behalf of everybody here at Predominantly Orange, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday season!  GO BRONCOS!