The Detroit Lions made a late-night signing on the opening day of the 2020 tampering window. They added defensive tackle Nick Williams, formerly of their division rival Chicago Bears, on a two-year deal worth $10 million. While it certainly did not break the bank, the deal is expensive enough that it shows the team expects Williams to play a significant role in their rotation up front in 2020.
Williams will be entering his sixth NFL season at age 30. After four years of barely getting any playing time in his first four seasons, he signed with the Bears in 2018 and finally got his shot. The defensive tackle thrived in his first real NFL role, notching 6.0 sacks and 42 combined tackles in 2019, his second year with the Bears. He was a quiet stand out for the team last year, and earned himself his first substantial NFL payday.
Just like many other signings in the Matt Patricia era, Williams’ most notable trait is his strength upfront. The lineman is great at powering through blockers in both run defense and pass rush and can usually just straight barrel through offensive lineman fairly easily.
2-tech for williams. uses his strength to shove away guard and just stuff the run pic.twitter.com/mz8XWLDTdm— mansur (@mansurshaheen) March 18, 2020
nick williams most valuable trait by far is his strength. great bull rush here and basically barrels through 2 dudes to notch a sack pic.twitter.com/PiiLhriCHd— mansur (@mansurshaheen) March 18, 2020
new detroit lions defensive tackle nick williams lines up at 4 tech here. good job holding ground against a double team to clog up the run pic.twitter.com/qqz9JqqILq— mansur (@mansurshaheen) March 18, 2020
He lines up everywhere from the nose all the way out to 5-tech, showing the versatility that Patricia also seems to love. While he has been most effective when lining up at 2 or 3-tech, he still can be a great piece for the Lions to get creative.
Williams has more than just brute strength, though. He is great with his hands and can use them to disengage blocks and work his way around blockers. The defensive tackle also rarely seems content with getting blocked. He has a great motor, and even on reps that he loses, he clearly at least shows that he is trying.
nick williams at 3 tech. stunt inside and easily beats the center to get in the backfield and flush goff out of the pocket pic.twitter.com/IcTgy1JfzU— mansur (@mansurshaheen) March 18, 2020
williams at 2-tech. works his way around blocker pretty easily and creates traffic to stuff the run for no gain pic.twitter.com/xISicSo83c— mansur (@mansurshaheen) March 18, 2020
great bend and use of hands from nick williams to get into cousins face here pic.twitter.com/0Mx7phSEfR— mansur (@mansurshaheen) March 18, 2020
Williams is a great run defender and decent pass penetrator. He is a better pass rusher from the interior than anyone Detroit had at defensive tackle—excluding Da’Shawn Hand when he was actually on the field—and his ability to win inside is huge for a team that rarely helps its pass rushers by sending extra bodies.
The new signing won’t be a star for the team in 2020, but he definitely gives a boost to a team in a position of need. If the Lions find success this year, then there's a chance that this is a signing we look back on as one of the small moves that helped push the needle.