Oakland Raiders sign DT Dan Williams

After it became clear that the Raiders, loaded with cap space and dealing with a huge hole at defensive tackle, would not land Ndamukong Suh, speculation immediately tied Terrance Knighton to the Raiders. It made sense given that Knighton had broken out as one of the better defensive tackles in the NFL over the past 2 seasons under new Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio’s tutelage in Denver, where Del Rio was the defensive coordinator, but ultimately they seemed to be scared off by the weight concerns that killed Knighton’s market this off-season. While signing Knighton to a same 1-year, 4 million dollar prove it deal that the Redskins signed him to would have been a good move, signing Dan Williams to this 4-year, 25 million dollar deal with 15 million guaranteed is also a solid value.

Dan Williams was a first round pick by the Cardinals in 2010 as a 6-2 327 pounder with rare movement and pass rush abilities for his size. Williams never quite lived up to his billing, maxing out at 428 snaps and primarily just playing in base packages, but he graded out above average in 4 of 5 seasons, including each of the last 3 seasons and he had his best season in his contract year in 2014. He played all 16 games for the first time in his career and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 14th ranked defensive tackle on just 427 snaps.

On top of that, he actually graded out above average as a pass rusher, something he’s done in each of the last 2 seasons after grading out below average in that aspect in each of his first 3 seasons. It’s possible his best football is still ahead of him, going into his age 28 season, and I’m excited to see him get more pass rush opportunities in Oakland’s 4-3. He’ll work inside in rotation with veteran Antonio Smith and Justin Ellis, who flashed as a 4th round rookie in 2014. Williams should set a career high in snaps in 2015 and could have a breakout year.

Grade: A-

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