The Minnesota Vikings have come to terms with long-time defensive tackle Kevin Williams in a move that will help the team at least be able to sign a 2013 NFL Draft class that could include 11 draft picks.
Williams was due a non-guaranteed $7.5 million in both 2013 and 2014. Now he’ll get a guaranteed $4.9 million this season and then be a free agent following the 2013 season. The new deal gives the Vikings $2.5 million in 2013 salary cap space bringing their total CAP hit to about $6.9 million this season.
Williams will turn 33 years old in August, and will enter his 11th season as the heavy favorite to start at three-technique DT for the Minnesota Vikings. Williams is backed up by Christian Ballard who has not been overly impressive in his first two seasons.
Williams stated earlier this offseason that he was open to a restructure but that he wants to play “two or three more seasons”.
“(The Vikings) might not feel the same way,” Kevin Williams admitted. “My main thing is to have a good year and whatever happens after that happens after that.”
The ten-year veteran has missed only four games in his Vikings/NFL career and is still playing at a high level though he has shown some signs that he is on the decline.
Kevin Williams, a five-time All-Pro selection between 2004 and 2009, is at a cross-roads in his career with the Vikings. The team could look to the future in the 2013 NFL Draft’s first or second round at players like UNC’s Sylvester Williams or Purdue’s Kawann Short who could prove to be to tempting to pass on as long term solutions. On the draft’s day three, a player like LSU’s Bennie Logan could be targeted to develop behind Kevin Williams and challenge Ballard in 2014 if Kevin Williams is not resigned beyond the 2013 season.
Here is my quick take on all three DT draft prospects:
Sylvester Williams: Williams has the size (6-3, 313) and speed (4.99 forty) to be a pass rush force at the next level. He uses a quick, burst to penetrate the line of scrimmage. He also has very good strength and is versatile after lining up at nose, defensive tackle and at end. Often described as a very high-character player that can hold up against double teams. The knock on Williams is his lack of consistency where he too often disappears for long stretches.
Williams seems to be projecting in the mid-to-late first round. The Vikings would need to take him at 23/25 overall to get him. Grooming him for a year behind Kevin Williams could be ideal for him.
Kawaan Short: Short (6’3, 303) was a rock on the Boilermakers defensive line for four years but never took that elite step that most anticipated he would. He does have very long wingspan which he used to bat down 11 passes and blocked 4 kicks).
He, like Sly Williams, has consistency issues and has been dubbed as “passive” by scouts. His wide frame should translate him as an NFL run-stuffer and could develop into a high-quality pass rusher.
Bennie Logan: Logan (6’2, 309) has the big frame and long, strong arms and flashes a quick burst off the snap. He didn’t take the step in his development in 2012 that scouts had hoped to see from him.
He plays with a high-motor but too often relies on his effort to make plays when his initial burst or push doesn’t work. Logan has the potential to develop into a very good NFL starter but has some work to do to develop into that player.
While Kevin Williams’ immediate future (2013) seems certain with his guaranteed new deal, April 25-27th could be a very telling sign of the teams long-term plans for him.