Can Vince Williams cover? Ask #98 and he’ll say yes. And he really doesn’t care what anyone else might think.
It’s pretty good timing to ask that question, as Williams was during a Wednesday Zoom meeting, considering we dove into the very question yesterday morning. Our article gave a complete scouting report on him and showed he’s a bigger asset than most fans give him credit for. Putting our endorsement aside, Williams is sure of his ability. Everything else is just noise.
“To be honest with you, I don’t really look at it, I don’t pour into it,” he said via the team website. “I don’t look at the misconceptions because—it doesn’t come up in a situation where my coach doesn’t ask me to do things. It is never a situation where I am not game planned to be put in a situation where I have to cover because of something that would be a perceived limitation of mine.”
Following Mark Barron’s release, Williams is all but guaranteed to have a role more similar to 2017-2018 when he worked in the team’s base and 3-4 defense. Last year, the Steelers primarily played him in their base defense against the run, which from the team’s standpoint would signal some worry about him going backwards, but not enough to replace him this offseason. On paper, second-year linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III could have a coverage role, but after losing an entire spring and large chunk of the summer, it’s hard for him to carve out a defensive role.
“I don’t go into the game plan room and Coach Butler is like, “We are going to blitz you because you can’t cover.” I have never had anybody say that to me. I think it is just an outside thing that people talk about outside of our organization, but everybody inside the building, they know what I can do.”
Our data showed Williams blitzed more than other Steelers’ off-ball linebackers but he’s an effective blitzer with 17.5 career sacks.
Williams isn’t a high-end cover guy like Ryan Shazier or what Devin Bush could become, he isn’t a flashy playmaker capable of intercepting multiple passes in a season, but he’s steady, consistent, with a high football IQ and processing ability.
A former 6th round pick whose already overcome long odds to last this long, Williams will look to prove doubters wrong again in 2020.