On field impact, position depth, and leadership are some of the things I considered when compiling my top 10 list. It's been fun to read everyone's take on their own top 10 (keep 'em coming).
It's back to the offensive side of the ball for #5. With Chris Williams finally entrenched at left tackle after last year's Orlando Pace experiment (FAIL), he'll have a full off season to get ready for his natural spot on the line. I think a Pro Bowl appearance is a definite possibility.
Williams really hit his stride last year after switching to the left side. It's not that he played terrible on the right, it's just that he wasn't comfortable there, and it showed. The left side is his home and it's where he was drafted to play. Holding a premier pass rushing defensive end like Jared Allen sackless in week 16 gave Bears fans an inkling of the potential Williams has. (heh heh, he said 'Jared Allen sackless')
On the right side he had some mental mistakes, and mental mistakes are usually made because you are thinking too much (see LG: Omiyale, Frank). Being back on the left side, and having the task of protecting Jay Cutler's blind side, makes Williams the most important member of the offensive line. There's a reason left tackles are paid like the so called "skill" positions, and that reason is; It is a skill position. Taking on the athletic rush ends in the NFL means the left tackle has to have good footwork, good balance, and good strength. Recognizing the line stunts and blitz packages means you need the intelligence to react quickly. Williams has the total package. Now he has to put it all together.
Former Bear and "tell it like it is" radio analyst Tom Thayer thinks Williams could be the best LT in the division, and current offensive line coach Mike Tice is impressed with his ability, from chicagobears.com;
Tice was very high on Chris Williams in the 2008 NFL Draft. "Chris Williams was one of my highest-rated tackles coming out," Tice said. "I was probably the only one in the building in Jacksonville that had him rated ahead of [Ryan] Clady. [Williams] has a lot of ability."
Once the pads get on he'll benefit from practicing against another top tier DE in Julius Peppers. And don't discount the work he'll get by taking on Mark Anderson and Israel Idonije, two players with very different styles.
Williams will have to step up his play in 2010, as the Bears will see their fair share of good defensive line play and attacking defenses throughout the season (pointed out splendidly by NiqueBears right here). They'll need a healthy and productive season from him considering the alternative. (See swing tackle: Shaffer, Kevin)
The list so far: