On April 18th, the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders announced they have cut nose tackle Dan Williams. The release comes two seasons after picking him up as a free agent from the Arizona Cardinals. The L.A. Chargers should be interested in this development as they sorely need depth along the defensive line, particularly at nose tackle. Williams would be a solid backup to starter to Brandon Mebane and give the Chargers two legitimate veteran run stoppers in the middle of the line.
Williams is currently listed at 6’2″, 330-pounds. In Arizona, he was a cornerstone of their defense, consistently occupying two blockers and plugging running lanes. As a result, pass rushers such as Karlos Dansby, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Bertrand Berry and Daryl Washington feasted on quarterbacks. With the uprising of young, hungry pass rushers and linebackers on defense, having wily veterans like Mebane and Williams is just the type of anchor needed to make the defensive line unstoppable.
Bringing in Williams also finally rectifies an egregious mistake that is seven years old.
I take you back to the 2010 NFL Draft.
The San Diego Chargers had closed a 13-3 season with a humiliating loss in the divisional round to the New York Jets. All-Everything running back Ladainian Tomlinson asked for and was granted a release. Seated at the 28th spot in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Chargers sacrificed their first- and second-round picks to the Miami Dolphins to move up 16 spots and select…
Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews…(insert rim shot here)….
The heir apparent to Tomlinson, like a bottle rocket, had a few flashes…and fizzled out. In five seasons, he had 24 touchdowns and 15 fumbles lost. Mathews missed 25% of the teams’ regular season games with injuries (20 out of 80). Mathews has logged a full 16-game season only once in his career (2013). That includes his current stint in Philadelphia.
And the injuries….soooo many injuries. Hamstring. Quadriceps. Groin. Thumb. Both collarbones. Concussion. Both ankles. And on and on and on….
Back to the 2010 NFL Draft. With the 26th pick in the draft the Arizona Cardinals selected Dan Williams and he became their keystone nose tackle. Aside from a broken arm in 2011 in which he missed the last six games he has only missed four games his entire career. Williams hasn’t missed a game in the last three seasons. The only reason he’s a free agent now is because of his salary cap number. Cutting Williams took $4.5-million off the Raiders’ ledger.
Perhaps the Chargers thought Mathews was the only worthy replacement in the draft. Jahvid Best, Dexter McCluster and Ben Tate were all selected after the Chargers’ original draft slot. Brain Westbrook, Thomas Jones, Willie Parker, Jamal Lewis and Pierre Thomas were all available in free agency.
What other names were missed in the first round? There was Safety Earl Thomas with the 14th pick. DE Jason Pierre-Paul (15), G Mike Iupati (17), C Maurkice Pouncey (18), WR’s Demaryius Thomas (22), Dez Bryant (24) and CB Devin McCourty (28).
As far as that second round pick goes, that was the year Rob Gronkowski was drafted. What’s Gronkowski up to these days? Dude has so much game he’s bodychecking pro wrestlers at Wrestlemania and cutting in on White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer during an official press conference!
And that’s only this month…
Take a moment and envision a two-tight end set of Antonio Gates and Gronk! The Chargers wouldn’t have needed wide receivers and Philip Rivers would’ve been smashing passing records. DT Linval Joseph (46), LB Daryl Washington (47), DE Carlos Dunlap (54), LB Sean Lee (55) and WR Golden Tate (60) all heard their names called that round.
As much as that day in 2010 will live in infamy for me and many other Chargers fans, bringing Williams into the fold will add some salve to the wound. It makes sense and there’s history there. While Williams was in Arizona his head coach was current Chargers Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. Don’t be surprised if a visit isn’t already in the works.
Moral of the story is do your homework. Stick to your board. Don’t let one great year of college football eclipse a checkered injury history coming into the draft. In short…
Don’t Mathews it up!
The Greg One
The Chargers defeated the Lions in Week 1 by a score of 33-28. The Chargers defense held the “Gold-atron” (Golden Tate/Calvin Johnson aka “Megatron”) combination to less than 100 combined receiving yards. That is very tough to do. That shows this secondary is very good and will be very good moving forward.
The secondary consisting of Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett, Eric Weddle, Jahleel Addae/Jimmy Wilson combination, looks to be one of the best that the Chargers have had in quite some time. But there is one player in that secondary who really stands out to me.
His name is Jason Verrett.
Verrett, the 2014 first-round draft pick out of Texas Christian (TCU), is getting better and better by the week. His assignment in Week 1 was shadowing Golden Tate, in which Tate went four catches on eight targets for 24 yards. Tate’s lowest totals last season, in terms of catches, targets and receiving yards, was Week 10 versus an elite secondary in Arizona. He finished with only two catches on two targets for 41 yards. On Sunday, he averaged a meager six yards per reception. In 2014, he averaged 13.4 yards per reception. In 2013, he averaged 14.0 yards per reception. In 2012, he averaged 15.3 yards per reception. I’m not going to go back any further, because I think you get the point. Tate is a very good runner with the ball in his hands and last season he was 3rd in the entire league with 691 yards after catch.
There was one play I want to focus on. In the second half of the game against Detroit, the Lions ran a wide receiver bubble in where they had Tate screened and with two blockers in front. Verrett weaved his way around the first blocker and made a fantastic solo, open-field tackle. The stop forced the Lions to punt.
These are the type of plays that only a few players in the league make on a guy of Tate’s caliber.
Jason Verrett is special. I do think if he stays healthy, he has all the tools and talent to become an elite, shutdown cornerback. His man-coverage ability is insane for his NFL experience. His instincts, which he was lauded for coming out of college, couldn’t be better and his open-field tackling might be the best on the team. Look for this guy to take his game to the next level this season, and prove to the NFL world that when they talk about top corners in the league, to not forget about No. 22, Jason Verrett.