Football / Sports

At 33, Williams could be nice fit for Seahawks

SEATTLE -- When the time comes, defensive tackle Kevin Williams will generate consideration for the Hall of Fame.

Williams' 11-year career with the Minnesota Vikings has been that good, his presence in the middle that felt. But the Seahawks aren't getting that Kevin Williams.

When a player with big-time credentials joins a new team, the credentials often overshadow the realities. Williams is 33 years old, and his last season in Minnesota saw a drop in productivity. In other words, the sunset is forming on Williams' career.

And yet the marriage between him and the Seahawks could be highly beneficial for both sides.

The Seahawks deploy a heavy rotation along the defensive line, and Williams should give them productive bursts when used in doses. He can play in run or pass-rushing situations, and people around the game think he should be a productive contributor if used part-time.

According to Football Outsiders, Williams played 718 defensive snaps last season. Michael Bennett was the only Seahawks defensive lineman to play 600 defensive snaps a year ago. No lineman played more than 58 percent of Seattle's defensive snaps.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had the conversation about being part of a rotation when he started talking to Williams during free agency, and Williams was receptive to the concept.

"I think if I'm playing 500 plays versus 700 plays at this age I can definitely still get after the quarterback," Williams said.

Said Carroll: "I think it's a real natural way for us to utilize his strengths. Obviously, he took to it because he's here. He had other choices. He had other places to go and other deals to take."

Williams could also address a want, if not exactly a need, for the Seahawks.

Seattle's roster looks poised to make another deep playoff run, but the Seahawks took hits along the defensive line. Gone from last year's team are defensive linemen Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Clinton McDonald.

In their place come a wave of young players with little experience: Jesse Williams and Greg Scruggs didn't play last season because of injuries, and Jordan Hill played only a small role.

It's worth remembering that Williams' stature doesn't guarantee him a spot on the roster. Veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield taught us that lesson a year ago.

Still, Carroll praised Williams for his work ethic and leadership, and he could also give the defensive line's second unit some stability. While last year was his worst statistical season, a part-time role could keep him fresh and therefore more effective.

"The rotation is key," said Louis Riddick, a former NFL scout and ESPN analyst. "He won't be nearly as effective without it at this point in his career, and he gives them size, length a veteran hungry for team success."

Just think back to a year ago, when Clinton McDonald played only 50 percent of Seattle's snaps but was vital to the defense's success as a part-time pass-rusher.

About a month ago, Williams looked at stats that showed his snap count from last season and the snap counts from the Seahawks' defensive linemen. By joining the Seahawks, Williams has accepted a new reality at a late stage in his career.

"It's an awesome chance to get in and play a limited number of snaps and maximize the ability I have," Williams said.

(c)2014 The Seattle Times

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