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To say our offensive line needed help last year would be like saying you might want to pack sunscreen for that upcoming vacation to the Sahara. We had a right tackle attempting to learn the left gaurd position on the fly, and do so alongside an aged left tackle that who still had plenty of power. The downside is there was a better chance of Izzy getting a blocking a field goal in a game than Orlando Pace blocking the defensive end if there was any kind of speed move involved.
Saying that Chris Williams will be a game changer for the Chicago Bears this year may be the understatement of the season, and the season hasn't even started yet. Follow me below the fold where we'll take a better look at our starting left tackle for the next decade, and why the man I lovingly refer to as CDub is going to make the league take notice this year.
First off, we're going to take a look at what brought this Vanderbilt product to the team in the first place. First on the list, Todd McShay with his pre-draft scouting report on the big guy, and then the actual scouting report to go with it.
Positives: Has a thick, wide upper body with broad shoulders, big bubble, wide hips and solid thigh and calf thickness...Has the wingspan and big hands to make the reach block, showing very good balance in his kick slide and attempts to mirror the edge rushers...Plays with adequate knee bend and is functional on short pulls and traps in-line when he plays on his feet but is not good running long distances...Shows the body control to adjust and gain position with his kick-slide...Alerts to stunts and twists, doing a nice job of working in unison with his guards...Well-liked by teammates and staff and keeps the players loose with his outgoing personality in the locker room...Shows very good leadership ability and will put in the extra hours mentoring a younger teammate...Does all the little extras in the film room and at practice...Hard worker who will not need to be monitored...Quicker setting up in pass protection than vs. the run, but is better when working in a phone booth, as he is more apt to gain position working in-line...Effective at getting to his reach point in pass protection...Has good slide agility and does a solid job of working down the line...When he keeps his pads down, he does a good job of keeping body control (used to lunge and lose his feet)...When he uses his size and reach, he is more effective gaining position off the snap...As a senior, he did a much better job of using his hands to lock up and control his man, developing ability to be a mauler...Is learning to use his hands while running his feet in attempts to sustain...Has just adequate hip roll but can get movement off the line on short pulls...When he gets his hands into the defender, he is capable of holding rush lanes and steering the defender out (has greatly improved his drive ability in 2007-- see Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Auburn games)...Must become more physical on drive blocks, but he is alert to coverage when trying to gain position. Has better reach, scope and down blocking ability when working in-line...Uses his long arms well to latch on to his man in attempts to control and wall off...Shows decent ability to sink his weight when sitting and holding up vs. the bull rush...Good on the short pulls when running a straight line, working hard to keep his feet on initial contact...Keeps his hands up high and inside his framework, defeating his man with finesse counter moves rather than using strength...His quick placement lets him gain advantage upon initial contact...Not a violent puncher, but knows how to use his reach to control...Has experience at both tackle and guard (until he develops more bulk and strength, he might be a better fit at guard, thanks to his short area burst).
Negatives:Not soft, but lacks ideal overall muscle tone (has a thick frame that shows marginal definition) and will need to add more bulk to his frame for a potential move to guard at the pro level...Lacks the agility to get in front blocking at the second level and needs to become more aggressive, as he sometimes takes passive swipes rather than forcefully engaging and driving into the opponent...Struggles to adjust in space, especially when trying to lower his body to push and control the defender on the move...Generally shows good vision, but will miss a few assignments now and then when his concentration lapses...More of a finesse-type blocker and needs to shoot his hands with much better force in attempts to gain leverage...Makes just an adequate effort to block downfield and is a bit inconsistent in finishing his blocks. Will play off his man too quickly at times rather than locking on to drive out and sustain...Sometimes struggles to cut off on the second level...Must improve his hip snap, as he does not always get to his seal-off point in a hurry...Needs to generate stronger leg drive in attempts to explode into the defender and finish off the block...Lacks hip explosion, making him more reliant on his hand placement than feet when trying to sustain...Will sometimes struggle with quick defenders, but will use his size to take up space and anchor...Can pull, but is sometimes slow moving his feet and needs to do a better job of taking proper angles trying to adjust in the open field...Must roll his hips better on contact, as he is too inconsistent finishing in the second level.
Compares To:D'BRICKASHAW FERGUSON-New York Jets...Like Ferguson, Williams relies on finesse moves and his long reach over power. Both need to improve their overall strength and add bulk to handle the demanding task of playing left tackle. Williams might be a better fit at guard early in his career, so as not to expose him against speedy edge rushers. He can mirror the quicker defender in the short area, but he is marginal taking on second-level defenders and needs to improve taking proper angles when working in space. He has the frame to get bigger, but needs to play with more tenacity. He is a smart student, but will miss a few assignments due to mental lapses. With just adequate hip snap, he would be a liability starting at left tackle as a rookie, but he has the makeup, size and desire to improve.
I've got to be honest, I'm a big fan of offensive lineman in general, and an even bigger fan of the guys we've got. Chris Williams stands out as part of a line than has multiple players known for their intelligence, work-ethic, skill, and leadership. CDub is right up there with Josh Beekman in my linemen I love catagory, and just watching his almost effortless slide back to his true position at left tackle illustrates why.
While he struggled at times at right tackle, a position he wasn't familiar with and isn't very suited for, you could see a night and day change once Williams manned his true place on the line. The hurries immediately dropped like meteor hurdling from space, as Pace was on average allowing a astronomical three hurries a game, to say nothing for the lack of QB hits and few sacks even against teams like the Vikings. It was a sight to behold watching the game to game improvement of Williams, and makes me very excited on what a full camp combined with time to gel at the position will bring.
It's often said that intelligence is extremely important in Mike Martz system, from the lineman on back, and that's a good thing for us with Williams scoring an extremely high 32 on his Wonderlic. One thing to keep an eye out on as far as Williams goes is his ability to add a bit more bulk to his frame, as it's historically been one of his few flaws. A consummate professional and teammate, I could talk about Williams all night, but luckily for me there have been stories written before that tell the story of our very own CDub, including one of the best I've read over the Sporting News.
Don't be surprised if this young family man ends up leading the charge of a revamped offensive line and plays a large part in bringing the Bears offense to the next level, and gives Sizzle some much deserved safety in the pocket.