Who said the Pro Bowl is meaningless?
Spurred by his snub from pro football's all-star game in February, former No. 1 overall pick
Williams showed flashes of being the league's next dominant pass rusher by recording 14 sacks last season, 10 in the final seven games. Based on his performance at minicamp, it appears he's ready to pick up where he left off last season. "The light has come on for him and he knows that he is the best player on the field," said the Texans official. "Once a player of his caliber realizes that, it often boosts his game to another level."
With his confidence buoyed, Williams has started to combine his freakish athleticism with a solid set of rush moves to wear out tackles on the edge. His consistency is also improving and he appears to be on the verge of becoming one of the game's top pass rushers. "Players typically make their biggest improvement from their first to second year," said the Texans' official. "But Mario's injury hampered his rookie season, so we are expecting him to make that jump this year."
If he does, Williams will continue to justify his selection as the top pick in the draft by receiving his first Pro Bowl bid at the end of this season.
• The resolution of
Prior to the designation, teams were forced to tab their pass rush specialists as a defensive end or linebacker. The difference in position resulted in a substantial disparity in compensation on franchise tenders ($8.879 million for defensive ends and $8.065 million for linebackers). With the "defensive end-linebacker" franchise tag valued at $8.5 million, the market has been established for Suggs, Ware and Merriman to generate big paydays on the open market. Expect each to net deals that average over $10 million annually with at least $25 million in guaranteed money.
• The Ravens quietly pulled off a draft day steal with the acquisition of cornerback
Washington, a 2005 first-round pick of the Oakland Raiders, will be given the chance to compete with
Last year the Ravens struggled when injuries to
Despite earning five Pro Bowl nominations, Williams is a one-dimensional player with severe limitations in coverage. The Cowboys' decision to keep him off the field in obvious passing situations was wise considering his struggles against the deep ball. "Roy has to trust that I'm going to put him in situations where he can be successful," Cowboys defensive coordinator
The Cowboys still envision Williams being integral to their defense and will likely experiment with several packages to get him back on the field in some passing situations. One of those packages may include Williams lining up as a nickel linebacker in their dime defense. By inserting him into the hybrid position, the Cowboys can take advantage of his rush skills while limiting his exposure in coverage. Crafting a role that plays to his strengths could satisfy the disgruntled veteran's wishes to be more involved in the defense without weakening the Cowboys' coverage.