As we head toward the NFL Draft in April, Warchant will take a look at the notable seniors (or draft-declared underclassmen) who train their eye toward the professional ranks. As the process moves along, these stock reports will feature updates. Next up in this series, Vince Williams
2012 Stats: 14 games, 59 tackles, 38 solo, 6.5 for loss and two passes defended.
Career Stats: 50 games, 140 tackles, 86 solo, 13.5 for loss, three sacks and one interception.
NFL Draft projections: CBS NFL Draft Scout - No. 10 inside linebacker, Round 6. ESPN/Scouts Inc. - No. 10 inside linebacker, Round 5.
Williams started at middle linebacker the last two seasons for Florida State, spitting time with Telvin Smith. Williams was a steady and consistent performer, and as a fifth-year senior this season he was one of the emotional leaders of the defense.
After receiving a late invite to the Senior Bowl, Williams has seen his stock steadily rise. He grabbed plenty of attention in practice with big hits, and recorded six tackles for the South in the actual game. Williams' performance in Mobile, Ala. likely moved him off the undrafted free-agent fringe and into the final three rounds of the NFL Draft.
Williams is big, physical player that can really lay the lumber. His biggest asset though may be his ability to diagnose what opposing offenses are doing. It gets Williams in trouble sometimes as he tries to cheat gaps, but for the most part it allows him to be in the right spot to make a play. He generally recognizes where the ball is headed shortly after its snapped.
Williams' weakness comes in pass coverage. He didn't give up a ton of big plays in 2012, but there's not doubt that's where his game is lacking. In two full seasons as a starter, Williams recorded just six passes defended and one interception.
Where does he fit in the NFL?
Williams is an inside linebacker through and through. He lacks the speed to play outside in either a 4-3 or 3-4 system. But his instincts and physicality make him a perfect fit as an inside guy in either system. His ability to absorb blocks will make him a valuable run-stopper at the next level.
Over the next three months, he'll look to show/improve
With the NFL becoming such a pass-heavy league, scouts are going to want to see better ball skills from Williams. He showed off some in 11-on-11 drills at the Senior Bowl, but he will have to show he has good hands at both the NFL Scouting Combine and FSU Pro Day if he hopes to see his stock continue to rise. Teams will also pay attention to his 40-yard dash time, which ESPN lists at 4.9. He'll need to improve upon that if he's going to go higher than the final two rounds of the draft.
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