Kevin Williams is fully aware that Sharrif Floyd could be his replacement waiting in the wings. It's possible Fred Evans' rotation time on the defensive line could be affected by the addition Floyd.
But the Vikings' veteran defensive linemen want the entire unit to get better and see the value in helping Floyd, the first of the Vikings' three first-round picks (No. 23 overall).
"He's an athletic guy. He definitely can move and he's a strong kid," Williams said. "Now we just get him in our terminology and just getting him functioning the way we do things over here and let him make plays."
Williams restructured his contract long before the Vikings had any idea that Floyd would fall from what many considered a top-five prospect to the Vikings' first-round pick at No. 23 overall. The restructuring changed the length of the contract to where Williams voided what was supposed to be the final year of the deal and changed it to 2013.
If Floyd lives up to his first-round billing, this could be the final season for Williams, the 2003 first-round pick. Both players are ideally suited for Williams' three-technique/under-tackle position on the defensive line.
"Hopefully it gets to the point where he's productive enough where he can warrant increased reps as the year goes on. That would be optimum if he's able to get in the rotation, have success and we can gradually add more reps to his play as the season goes on," head coach Leslie Frazier said of Floyd.
"We'd like for him to get in a rotation system with Kevin and take some of those reps off of Kevin and keep him fresh throughout the season and we're hoping that would be the case."
Fred Evans, who is expected to rotate with incumbent starter Letroy Guion at nose tackle next to Williams and Floyd, said he "never" felt threatened by the selection of another defensive tackle.
"I don't count numbers," Evans said. "… It's always the me-versus-me kind of battle. As soon as you start counting and worry about other people, that's when you lose a sense of yourself."
Entering training camp, the front line of the depth chart is expected to remain the same as it was last season – Williams at under tackle and Guion at nose tackle. Floyd likely will be placed directly behind Williams by the time the regular season starts, and Evans is expected to challenge Guion for the starting spot.
Last year, Willams played in 71 percent of the defensive snaps, third among the defensive linemen (defensive ends Jared Allen, 93 percent, and Brian Robison, 76 percent, led the way). But the defensive tackles had a more consistent and deeper rotation. After Williams, Guion played in 43 percent of the snaps, Christian Ballard 33 percent and Evans 30 percent.
Ballard is likely to be most affected by the drafting of Floyd, but in the aftermath of the draft, it was clear the Vikings were thrilled as the first round played out and Floyd continued to drop to them.
"Nervousness, that he fell and how much we were going to have to wait," defensive coordinator Alan Williams said of waiting for the first 22 picks to play out during Floyd's draft-day drop. "We had a little space in there and he kept falling and falling. And boy I'll tell you, when it got down to close to us, just nervousness that, hey, he's right within our grasp but is he really going to be there when we pick? Jubilation. You name it. We felt it when we had it. He's a good, good football player."
But he isn't a finished product yet. He didn't start even watching NFL football until 2008.
"He's a good kid. He's willing to learn. It's always different when you have somebody come in from a college and they play their technique and we've got a solid defensive line. But he fits in. He's been doing real good," Evans said.
"… You go to a new team in the NFL and there's things you've got to change about technique. Everybody doesn't teach the same thing. But he's a good, solid kid."
Floyd said early in the process of organized team activities that Kevin Williams corrected him on technique so he could be more efficient.
"It's been great having a teacher in front of me that's been through it before, a decade-plus. It's great," Floyd said. "I'm glad I got that in front of me to learn from and to build off of."
Williams said he didn't have an opinion of the Vikings drafting Floyd, but the restructuring of the contract may have been the writing on the wall more than a month before the selection of Floyd.
Although it was clear Williams wasn't happy about essentially being forced to restructure his contract or possibly be cut, he is taking the high road with the selection of Floyd.
"I just look at it as we're trying to get better. If we can bring a young guy to help us win and he just so happens to play my position, so be it," Williams said. "I still think I'm the top dog here, and until proven otherwise we're going to go with it."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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