There’s a very specific type of defense that Leslie Frazier and the Vikings will always strive for in the present system.  It all starts with stopping the run. As the stats will tell you, a nose tackle who can absorb a double team, shed blocks, and make plays on the football can make all the difference in the running game’s defense.  In Pat Williams’ first season as a Viking, the defense jumped from 19th in the league to 1st in run defense.  With Williams on the nose for 5 seasons, the Vikings averaged a total of 80.2 rushing yards per game, finishing tops in the league three of those seasons and runner-up once. In the 25 games post-Williams, the run defense has allowed 110.7 yards per game.  Stopping the run is so important in the Tampa 2, because it forces teams into third-and-long’s, letting the defensive line pin their ears back in a zone scheme reliant on a good pass rush.  The heavy usage of Letroy Guion and occasional rotation with Christian Ballard and Fred Evans just doesn’t do what this defense needs it to do.

The following scenario is a 2nd and 7 in the 1st quarter in Seattle.  The Seahawks have the ball in the redzone with a run off right tackle called.  A stop here would pin the rookie quarterback in 3rd and long, the best way to force a redzone field goal.

Letroy Guion is the circled player, shaded to the left of center Max Unger. The Vikings have linebackers Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson walked up on the line, creating a 6 vs. 6 situation with Jasper Brinkley free.

From initial contact, the Vikings have what they want out of the play (minus Brian Robison getting washed away too easily).  Jasper Brinkley is going to come unblocked.  Brinkley has inside leverage on the run, meaning he should always be inside of the ball carrier.  Guion has outside leverage after he picks up Lynch with his eyes.

But Guion is playing too high, loses the initial battle with Unger, and loses his leverage all too quickly.  His inability to disengage from the block allows Lynch to run through a gaping hole straight into the secondary.

Enter Jesse Williams. 6’4″ 320 lbs from Alabama.

This situation is similar to the play I described above. Alabama has LSU matched 6 vs. 6 at the line. The difference is that this play is run to the weak side (and from I-formation) and that Jesse Williams is not on the nose.  This play is from his junior season, where he was utilized more heavily at this 5 technique position than the nose tackle spot he holds this season.  Even so, his job is the same here.  He needs to keep his outside shoulder free and let Nico Johnson clean up the run to the inside if Spencer Ware decides to cut it up.

It’s pretty evident that this play is a dominant one from the start for Williams.  His first step is explosive enough to initially control the right guard a yard in the backfield.  He has proper pad level and identifies the ball carrier quickly.  He also has his arms extended, keeping the guard from getting underneath his pads and gaining control.

This is where Jesse Williams sets himself apart.  He has the athletic ability that a guy like Letroy Guion simply couldn’t dream of.  He’s off the block and can close on the running back with relative ease.  He wraps up Ware on this play and keeps him to no gain.  Williams’ hand usage is simply elite.  He plays with heavy, powerful hands with a club that can knock a blocker off balance immediately.  As a nose tackle this season, he’s shown the ability to fire his hands quickly to win initial contact.  He also has the ability to control the double team, a key trait in a great nose tackle.  There’s little doubt in my mind that Jesse Williams would provide an immediate upgrade to the Vikings defensive line.  Not to mention, might he form Williams Wall Part Two?

Screenshots taken from Draft Breakdown’s video gallery, for more Jesse Williams:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aBbTLxLiicA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3ksIy0xAMD8

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