A look at potential draft picks by the Pittsburgh Steelers in next April's draft continues with a profile of Chris Williams, LT Vanderbilt.
The Vanderbilt product has made a big rise up draft boards since his junior year. The 6'6" 315 lb LT had an impressive senior campaign starting all twelve games and finishing with the highest blocking grade (85.7%) of any down lineman in the SEC. Williams started the past two years at left tackle after splitting time between tackle and guard his sophomore year. In his two seasons as a starter, Williams gave up just two sacks while registering over 180 knockdowns and 21 touchdown resulting blocks. As you might expect, Williams got better by registering more knockdowns and a better grade each year. Despite Williams outstanding play, the Commodore offense wasn't among NCAA leaders averaging just 326 yards per game.
Williams is thought of as a 'finesse' left tackle and is considered by many to be one of the best, if not the best pass blocking tackle in this years draft. This might intrigue the Steelers, who could be interested in drafting linemen that are more skilled in the passing game than as maulers in the running game. He has really good foot work and is at his best against speed rushers, which we know there are plenty in the gauntlet that is the SEC. The knock on Williams though is that bull rushers gave him some problems. Williams will have to get stronger to become an above average run blocker. Much stronger. He only threw up 21 reps on the bench at the combine (hard to believe 5'10 182lb Eddie Royal did 3 more). He did get better in the running game during his senior season so there are signs that he has the ability. There are some questions about his mental toughness as well, at least to some. According to at least one source, Williams was distracted and played poorly following an altercation with another athlete during a practice session at the Senior Bowl.
I'd imagine that pro scouts and GMs will have a wide range of opinions on Chris Williams. Some might covet his natural ability in the passing game. Others might scoff at his lack of strength. For the Steelers, Williams could be a nice fit, though a project early on. While his lack of strength is a concern, he should benefit greatly from a pro weight room. With the change in philosophy in the Steeler offense, Williams' better attributes might be desireable. After all, it might not be a bad idea to have a tackle that excels at guarding Ben's blindside.