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Scout's Notebook: Texans DE Mario Williams

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Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki

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By Nolan Nawrocki

Notes: North Carolina prep chose North Carolina State over offers from Ohio State and Tennessee, among others. Has never missed a start dating back to his collegiate debut. In 36 games (2003-05) with the Wolfpack, totaled 175 tackles, 52 for loss and 25½ sacks (both school records) with seven passes batted down and three forced fumbles. Opted to forgo his senior season of eligibility and was selected first overall by the Texans in the 2006 draft before signing a six-year contract that included $26.5 million guaranteed. Despite playing through a foot injury as a rookie, he has started all 68 games over four-plus seasons, registering 212 tackles and 44½ sacks with nine batted passes and 10 forced fumbles, earning Pro Bowl honors the past two seasons.

Positives: Excellent body length, base strength and power to crush the corner and overpower the edges. Swats away tight ends like bugs and rag-dolls bigger blockers. Can bend the corner like few big men can. Has developed his pass-rush repertoire with a strong arm-over, rip, tug and bull-rush moves. Wears down blockers with superior strength at the point of attack and terrific agility to slip-shed blockers. Explosive tackler. Scheme-versatile and capable of fitting anywhere on the line. Extremely durable. Only 25 years old and brimming with upside.

Negatives: Effort can be inconsistent, and he does not always dominate the way he is capable. Is still honing his instincts — can be late to sort out play-action and react. Can be undisciplined, late to find the ball and lose contain. Is a bit high-cut and can be late to sink his hips and redirect. Will tire and let his pads rise, negating his strength. Can still learn how to string more moves together. Lacks elite closing burst. Got stuck on the line too much against Cowboys OLT Doug Free in Week Three and showed he could be be contained against man protection.

Summary: A rare physical specimen with superhuman strength and unique bend, burst and balance for a big man, Williams can flat-out dominate and take over games when he wants to, as he did against Washington in Week Two. Is among the two most freakishly gifted defensive ends in the NFL along with Julius Peppers and creates mismatch problems aligning from either side. More strong than quick, Williams is a dominant run defender and consistent double-digit sack producer. Has proven to be a cornerstone of a physical run defense.

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