The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended a few weeks earlier that they had planned it to, but now that their 2015 campaign has drawn to a conclusion, it’s time to wrap things up and take stock of where they are and how they got there. Part of that process involves holding player exit meetings at the conclusion of each season.
Of course, we’re not privy to the specifics that go on in each of these meetings between head coach and player, and whomever else might be involved in any particular discussion, but if we were conducting them, it might go something like this.
Player: Vince Williams
Position: Inside Linebacker
Experience: 3 Years
For a former sixth-round draft pick, inside linebacker Vince Williams has done well for himself. Even sticking onto the 53-man roster for three seasons now is to be lauded as a legitimate accomplishment, as many players in his position never reach that far. But I have no doubt that he has higher aspirations than that when it comes to his future.
In quite a rarity, Williams was thrust into a starting role during his rookie season because of injury, although the Steelers frequently subbed him out in order to limit his workload and to prevent overwhelming him with the mental aspect of the game. But they never would have put him in that role if they didn’t think he could handle it.
He flashed some that rookie year, showing instincts and physicality, particularly in the run game. As a bigger player build more for the buck linebacker role, it’s no surprise that he is one of the better inside linebackers on the team in shedding blocks.
He was understandably let down, however, when the team drafted Ryan Shazier in the first round at the beginning of his second year. He believed he deserved a chance to take on that starting role, though it was handed immediately to Shazier.
Because of injuries, he still managed to get on the field for a couple hundred snaps in 2014, and he logged another couple hundred this past season as a rotational player filling in while injuries occurred, but what about in 2016?
This year will be the final year on his rookie contract, and he no doubt would like to see himself having a future beyond career backup. Lawrence Timmons played over 95 percent of the team’s snaps last year, but that about five percent all came later in the season.
He was subbed out for an extra defensive back, but perhaps the Steelers would consider a marginal rotation, as they did with James Farrior in his final season. Given the team’s increased priority on specialization, perhaps there could be a package that caters to his skills.
That is, of course, dependent upon the future that the team sees for Williams, which could be very much different from what he sees for himself. He is a cornerstone on special teams, at the moment, and a quality reserve on defense, but is that his top end value?