By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — With starter Larry Foote entering his 12th NFL season and last year’s rookie draft pick Sean Spence still not cleared medically to practice after a preseason knee injury, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to get some help at inside linebacker during this year’s NFL Draft.
So, the Steelers selected Florida State’s Vince Williams (6-foot, 247 pounds) with the 206th and final pick in the sixth round Saturday afternoon. The Steelers also drafted an outside linebacker, Jarvis Jones, with the 17th overall pick in the first round Thursday night.
“We’re not decided on where we’re going to play him, at the Buck or Mack position, but he’s going to provide some depth for us that’s well needed,” Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler said. “I feel like, but if they did what I like we’d have taken another (linebacker) in the second round, too.
“But as I told them the last time we picked first and second with linebackers (Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley in 2007) we won the Super Bowl two years later. We just didn’t go to it, we won it. I tried that argument, but it didn’t work. It only worked for one round. (But) Vince Williams will be very competitive for us at inside linebacker. We need for Sly (Stevenson Sylvester) to step up a little bit and some of these younger guys that we’ve got … to do that.”
Williams was only a two-down linebacker at Florida State, as the Seminoles put in an extra defensive back in passing situations. So, he rarely had to drop into coverage, but the Steelers will work on that with him. And the player is ready for the challenge ahead of him.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I’m ready for it,” Williams said. “I’ve worked hard to get my body into tip-top shape, so I’m really happy to be part of the Steelers organization. I think I had a pretty decent college career, but injuries did prevent me from being as good as I think I probably could have been. But that’s the way it goes. I think I was pretty successful, but I have to be ready to take my game to another level in the pros.”
Butler had some good things to say about Williams as well.
“He runs to the ball well and gets off blocks well,” Butler said. “We try to stay away from players who are not going to be physical, so we scored well with us in that area. And he’ll hit you when he gets to the ball. So, we’ll see in training camp if he has the ability to cover running backs. (But) that’s something we have to determine in camp. (And) he can play special teams.”
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