Dallas Cowboys' Sam Williams has a Make-or-Break year in 2024

The Dallas Cowboys need Sam Williams to step up in 2024
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NFL season is a critical juncture for defensive end Sam Williams. Drafted with the 56th pick in 2022, Williams has yet to fully realize his potential. With key veterans like Dorance Armstrong, Jr. and Dante Fowler no longer in the picture, the spotlight is squarely on him.

Williams’ first two seasons have been marked by inconsistency. While he’s shown glimpses of promise, he’s also made some head-scratching plays. His defensive snaps have been limited, with special teams accounting for a significant portion of his playing time.

But 2024 presents a fresh opportunity.

With Armstrong and Fowler gone, Williams must step up. Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence are already carrying heavy workloads. Williams needs to become the reliable force opposite of Lawrence, alleviating some pressure from Parsons. If he succeeds, the Cowboys will have a potent pass rusher, allowing Parsons to be used more as a versatile chess piece rather than just an EDGE exclusively.

Williams’ development isn’t just about his career—it’s crucial for the entire defense. Dallas lacks experienced depth at defensive end. While Viliami Fehoko and Marshawn Kneeland wait in the wings, they’re unproven in the NFL. Williams, with his explosive potential, is the missing piece this defense needs to be special. Williams has shown flashes of brilliance as a pass rusher.

Let's take a look at where he needs to improve this season.

Williams has to become more disciplined as a run defender. He loves getting upfield and making splash plays, but that is used against him far too often. Mike Zimmer's scheme requires players to be gap-disciplined so the linebackers can run to the ball. If he can't maintain his gap integrity in the running game, it'll be hard for Zimmer to keep him on the field. For Williams to improve this season, it’s all about consistency, discipline, and eliminating boneheaded plays.

Sam Williams represents both hope and uncertainty for the Cowboys’ defense. If he takes the next step and becomes the impact player they need, Dallas could have the best group of rushers in the NFL. If he doesn't take the next step, Dallas will give players like Kneeland and Fehoko the opportunity to take his snaps.

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Dustin Mosher