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When the Arizona Cardinals drafted nose tackle Dan Williams, they did more then fortify a position - they drafted one of the best players in the 2010 draft class. Williams will be the game-changing move this week due to his size, athleticism, and ability to man the center of the 3-4 defense. Williams effected the Cardinals defense in three different ways after he was drafted.
The first effect began on draft-night, when Williams somehow slipped all the way to the 26th overall pick. Since he did fall that far, the Cardinals didn't hesitate to draft him, and could then focus all of their attention on finding an inside linebacker. Had Williams not been there, the Cardinals may have reached for a linebacker at that position in the draft, and never found a dominant nose tackle after that. Fortunately, he was, and the Cardinals were able to draft Daryl Washington in the second round to fill Karlos Dansby's vacant position.
The next two affects are after the jump...
The second affect Williams will have on the Cardinals defense is his presence. He's built with a low center of gravity and possesses the ability to serve as an anchor on the defense. He'll occupy both "A" gaps(right and left side of center), and demand double teams from opposing team's offensive lines. He's nimble on his feet and shows the ability to chase defenders down field. He'll improve the Cardinals run defense and provide very good pass rushing if he can live up to his full potential.
The final affect will be the play of the cast surrounding Williams. Effectively drawing a double team as any great nose tackle in a 3-4 defense should do, will alleviate the pressure off Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. This will enable them to focus on more running plays heading their direction, while also pressuring the passer. This affect, then trickles down to the outside linebackers, who will provide better edge rushing, and the defensive backs, who won't be stuck in coverage for more then a couple seconds.
Williams proved to be the not only the game-changing pick of the draft, but possibly the game-changing pick of the 2010 season. Although he'll only be a rookie, he may take over the starting job very early in the season and prove why the Cardinals were so high on drafting him.