Call him Vince Williams, Esq. Because like a lawyer, or doctor, Steelers’ ILB coach Jerry Olsavsky credits Vince Williams’ professional approach.
Olsavsky spoke highly of Williams in a Monday morning Zoom call with the media.
“Vince is a professional,” he told reporters. “Just like Dr. Bradley is a professional and lawyers are professionals. Vince is a professional. Every year he does something different and he comes back and people are like, well, Vince should be gone this year. And he comes back and not only is he the same, but he’s acquired another skill. People don’t understand, Vince Williams is a very intelligent person. He has an English degree from Florida State. You know what I mean? He’s got three kids and his wife really helps them out. So that is just the person that Vince is.”
A 6th round pick in 2013, Williams has played in 107 games, starting 55 of them, and recording 409 tackles, 17.5 sacks, and two interceptions. He was thrown into the fire as a rookie, starting by Week 4 following Larry Foote’s season-ending injury. In our tape study of his coverage ability, we noted what Olsavsky mentioned. A high IQ player who makes up for a lack of elite athletic tools with a great mind and recognition of route concepts. Williams is also a great communicator and become one of the leaders of the defense on and off the field.
Put it this way. Despite being selected 206th overall in 2013, he ranks tied for 9th in games played from that draft class and only four games shy of the top spot. In Steelers’ history, he ranks 11th in games and starts of any 6th round pick. That’s rare staying power. Olsavsky says Williams ability to self-scout and get better is what keeps him in the league and on the field.
“And that’s why on the field he always sticks around because he loves playing football. And he recognized his weaknesses. And he goes after them with a vengeance. And he gets those weaknesses thrown away. Like if this was, you know, eight years ago, we’d say, well, Vince is going to play four years and then go away. That’s not the same Vince. His person is the same but the football player has gotten a lot better because in his downtime, he’s really improved himself. I tell Vince all the time, I wish I was like him. I would’ve played much longer.”
Williams will return to the starting lineup and figures to have a more prominent role in the defense following Mark Barron’s release. He figures to play between 500-650 snaps this season next to Devin Bush but will still come off the field in dime packages.