An Appreciation of D.J. Williams

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By PFC Blogger Lon Anderson

With his release likely to occur any day, I wanted to take a moment to look back at the Broncos’ career of Linebacker D.J. Williams.

After a stellar career at the University of Miami (“the U”), the Broncos drafted Genos Derwin Williams, Jr. with the 17th pick of the 1st round of the 2004 Draft. He was selected after such undistinguished picks as Robert Gallery, Reggie Williams and Michael Clayton.

Mike Shanahan thought Williams would be the key to stopping the run and intermediate passing routes while Champ and Company locked down the deep threats.

He flourished at weak-side LB in his first year, leading the Broncos with 114 tackles, also recording two sacks, one interception and one forced fumble. He finished as a runner-up to fellow Hurricane teammate Jonathon Vilma for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

After his rookie year, he switched to strong-side backer. He was developing into one of the leaders of the team’s defense and helped the Broncos advance to the AFC championship game in 2005.

After an injury ended the career of the great Al Wilson in 2006, he moved to middle linebacker. He was so good in that position, Broncos writer Mike Klis of the Denver Post remarked that from 2007 to 2011, he was the best player in the NFL to not be named to a Pro Bowl. *

After a suspension limited his playing time in 2012 and the emergence of young LBs Steve Johnson and Nate Irving, it is apparent that Williams’ time with the Broncos has come to an end.

A retrospective would not be complete without mentioning his off-the-field issues. It is true that he has not necessarily been a choir boy off of the field. But just looking at his on the field play, I feel blessed to have watched him perform every Sunday.

D.J. is too talented and still has enough left in the tank to not be a starter next season. Rumor has it Shanahan might try to bring him to Washington. If that is the case, I will be rooting for D.J. to turn in one more great year for his former coach.

I will also look back fondly at some of the great moments of Williams’ nine-year Broncos career, including his fabulous rookie year, helping lead Denver to the AFC title game in 2005 and helping Tim Tebow lead the team to an upset win over the Steelers in 2011.

Good luck, D.J. and thanks for the memories.

I will be back next month with my initial thoughts on free agency and the draft.

Lon Anderson
Denver Broncos Fan since 1977
Twitter handle: @landers07