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Bills DT Williams still flying under the radar

John McCargo used to be the hot name. As a first-round draft pick of the new-look Buffalo Bills in 2006, McCargo represented the future of the defensive tackle position in Buffalo. Meanwhile, the consensus surrounding unheralded fifth-round pick Kyle Williams was "nice player, limited upside."

Flash forward three years. McCargo is trying desperately to prove that he belongs after a failed trade to Indianapolis, several injuries, and questions surrounding his work ethic. Meanwhile, Williams has started all 48 games in his three-year career. He's entering the second year of a five-year, $14.5 million extension he signed last July. Very quietly, he is one of Buffalo's most underrated players at any position.

How did this happen? How does a fifth-round pick start every game in his rookie season and hold onto the job for two more? Simple: Kyle Williams is a heck of a football player. Too few of us Bills fans realize it. I, myself, have never written an article solely dedicated to Williams - and feel a little bad about it. That changes right now.

Many folks are quick to look at simple metrics and decide that due to the Bills' lackluster performances in defending the run the past three seasons, the "nice player, limited upside" description still fits Williams. That's not the case. According to Football Outsiders metrics, the Bills - behind Williams and fellow tackle Marcus Stroud - were sixth-best in the NFL in 2008 stopping the run between the guards.

It's also worth noting that over the past three years, only one Bills defensive lineman - end Chris Kelsay, a player traditionally in a better position to make a play - has more tackles than Williams' 148. That shows how active Williams is and just how hot his motor runs. He'll never be a sack machine or a dominant presence, but he's sturdy, dependable, and far more importantly on a young team, he's consistent.

Sturdy, dependable and consistent doesn't win you a lot points in the flashy NFL. In a city like Buffalo, those qualities should be revered. It's particularly difficult to get away with not talking about Williams considering the fact that despite his fifth-round draft status, the guy was an outstanding collegian. He earned Second Team All-SEC in his junior year, 2004; that elevated to first team in 2005. He was a Second Team All-American in his senior season, voted there by several institutions. He did all of that playing for one of the nation's prestigious college programs.

There's a reason Williams got an early contract extension, and why the Bills chose to upgrade over Larry Tripplett rather than Williams - he plays the game the right way. He plays what is traditionally an unglamorous position, and he does so with reckless abandon. He's tough, he's gritty, and based on his college days, he's used to winning. He works at his craft. More importantly to the fan base, he's a productive player. While no one will ever mistake him for the cornerstone of an NFL defense, there isn't a team in the league that would turn down having a Kyle Williams on their roster. He deserves more respect than the very little he gets.