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Evaluating the Pick: Sylvester Williams

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --With the 28th selection of the first round, the Broncos could have traded back for the second consecutive year, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said.

Instead, they jumped at the chance to draft defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, a player that Elway said the personnel department did not think would still be available for the Broncos to select.

It seems like the front office was not alone in thinking that Williams would be gone by the time pick No. 28 went on the clock.

Broncos Executive Director of Media Relations Patrick Smyth tweeted that "Multiple press 'in the know' commented how surprised they were that he lasted until No. 28." and that another national press member said that, "In every mock draft I did, I had him going much earlier."

Broncos fans seem to agree based on the results of a poll on the Broncos Country Message Boards. Of the 122 people that responded to the question, "What do you think of the Sylvester Williams pick," 104 said they like it (85.3 pct.), 16 said they didn't know much about the player (13.1 pct.) and just two said that they didn't like the pick (1.6 pct.).

The Denver Post's Jeff Legwold had Sylvester Williams as his 16th-rated player in the draft, writing before the draft, "He's a long way from the assembly line at Modine Manufacturing — they make parts for the radiators in trucks — which is exactly where he was following high school. But he gave football another shot and will soon be a first-round pick because of it."

Also from the Denver Post, columnist Mark Kizla gave the Broncos an 'A' for their selection.'s Matt Smith said that there was no player that he liked more in the entire draft than Williams.

Of the 23 mock drafts that compiled before the draft, the average slot for Williams was 23.8. Five of those mocks had Sylvester going in the top 15 and only four had the defensive tackle slipping past the Broncos at pick No. 28. Only one of the 23 correctly pegged Williams to the Broncos --'s Josh Norris.

Below is a summary of what some national press had to say about the selection of Williams after the conclusion of Round One:

The rather tumultuous first half of Round 1 seems to have worked to the benefit of the teams picking later. Like several of the teams immediately above them, the Denver Broncos mixed need and value to decide on defensive tackle Sylvester Williams at pick No. 28.

Williams was right in the mix with the top DTs in this draft, perhaps a step below Sharrif Floyd, Star Lotulelei or Sheldon Richardson, but certainly atop the second tier. Defensive tackle was a spot Denver had to get deeper at, too, so Williams works.

The North Carolina product is a bit more raw than Floyd or Lotulelei — at this point, Williams probably cannot take a game over by himself on the line, like those two can. What Williams can do, though, is excel with his quickness and footwork to penetrate the offensive line

Denver should be a nice situation for him, since he's best suited right now for a rotation, where he doesn't have to play on all three downs. Keeping Williams fresh will maximize his athleticism.

Grade: A-minus. Maybe not Denver's biggest need, but certainly a need. Williams will fit in well with the Broncos.

What he brings: There are some concerns about Williams' true playing weight. However, he is a disruptive interior run stopper with quick hands and feet. He can shoot gaps and get off blocks, and he has the pass-rush skills to stay on the field on third down. Williams might not have a lot of sacks, but he can disrupt and force quarterbacks to move off the spot in the pocket and make some tough throws.

How he fits: The Broncos have done a terrific job of upgrading the interior of this defense, and they have a philosophy of building from the inside out. They have a nice inside trio of Kevin Vickerson, Mitch Unrein and Derek Wolfe, who can play inside and outside. Williams can give them a nice four-man rotation and create depth. When this inside group is playing well, it forces offenses to attack the edge, which allows pursuit to catch up. Denver has some slight concerns about age and durability at this position, so this looks like a bit of an insurance pick.

Analysis: The Broncos add some beef inside alongside recently resigned Kevin Vickers and free agent addition DT Terrance Knighton. Williams may not offset the pass rush loss of DE Elvis Dumervil, but he could generate push up the middle that helps free both LB Von Miller and DE Derek Wolfe on the outside. And remember, this team could still reel in DE Dwight Freeney at some point. But Williams is a talent who helps now while serving as a long-range building block.

Williams can chew up blockers and cause serious problems for offenses. He has excellent strength and it won't be surprising if commands double-teams in the near future. Good pick.

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