With the 196th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Keith Williams, a 6’4″, 318 lb. guard from Nebraska.
The Steelers are a team that always selects the best player available. Because of this, their picks sometimes leave me scratching my head. But I’m noticing a trend this year. The Steelers are clearly drafting based on need. They had 3 key needs coming into this draft, cornerback, offensive line, and defensive line, and through the first 6 rounds, the Steelers have focused all of their picks on those needs. That may sound like common sense, but it’s actually very atypical for the Steelers.
Having already selected a tackle in this years draft, the Steelers now select a guard. So offensive line coach Sean Kugler should be a very happy man.
Keith Williams is a good selection for so late in the draft. He comes from an excellent Nebraska program that was the 9th ranked rushing team in the country last year. Williams played left guard on that team, and was a 3-year starter.
The most telling thing about the 2010 Cornhuskers is that they had 10 games where they rushed for over 200 yards. That right, 200 yards rushing! They even had two games in which they had 300 rushing yards. When you run for that many yards, your offensive linemen are definitely doing something right.
Williams looks like an NFL guard. He’s thick and has a very wide upper body. He has excellent strength, and can move most offensive linemen due to his sheer bulk. He definitely fits the description of a “road grader”.
Besides being big and strong, Williams also plays with a nasty temperament. He’s mean and physical. He doesn’t ease up on the man he’s blocking until the whistle blows. He’s both a mauler and a brawler.
The one thing that I don’t like about him is that he’s not as athletic as some guards. Florida guard Mike Pouncey, for example, is not as physical as Williams, but he’s got the athleticism to pull and block linebackers at the second level. Williams did okay at getting to blockers in the second level in college, but I’m not sure if he’s going to be quick enough to do it at the next level. He’s much more similar to Chris Kemoeatu than he is to Alan Faneca. That’s not necessarily bad. They’re just different types of players. The two current Steelers linemen that he reminds me of most are Kemoeatu and Willie Colon.
Williams is definitely more comfortable in run blocking than he is in pass protection. But that makes sense, since Nebraska had such a high powered rushing attack. Run blocking plays to his strengths. He’s much more comfortable pushing his man forward than he is moving backwards.
Some have questioned his work ethic. There have also been rumors that he’s a little hard-headed and tough to coach. But the Steelers obviously think that they can get the best out of him, or they wouldn’t have selected him.
Williams is definitely going to need some coaching and development from Sean Kugler. But he’s a big, mean, guy who plays with an aggressive attitude. That’s a pretty good thing to acquire with a 6th round pick.
Analysis of all 2011 Steelers Draft picks:
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