Eagles training camp 2022: Don’t forget about Milton Williams

Why Milton Williams shouldn’t be forgotten member of Eagles’ DL originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

On an interior defensive line that includes Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and now first-round pick Jordan Davis, it would be easy to forget about Milton Williams.

Williams is working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.

As he enters his second NFL season, the third-round pick from Louisiana Tech feels like things started to click for him in the second half of his rookie season and he’s looking forward to keeping that momentum going in 2022.

“I felt like I was pretty stout in the run game,” Williams said this week. “There’s still room for improvement there but just being more consistent as a pass rusher, being more of a threat. Get more snaps on the field and be productive.”

As a rookie, Williams played in all 17 games and started two in 2021. He finished the season with 30 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 TFLs and 6 QB hits. Most of that production came in the second half of the season.

Through seven games last season, Williams had just 10 tackles, no sacks, TFLs or QB hits. But in the final 10 games of his rookie season, Williams had 20 tackles and all his sacks, QB hits and TFLs.

“When did it click for me?” Williams said, repeating a question. “I’d say probably mid-season when I really go the speed of the game down. Watching a lot of tape and offensive line tendencies and things like that. You start to see it in the game and you hear their calls and kind of get a little feel for the formations and the personnel they’re running to expect certain things.”

In individual meetings with players at the end of the season, the Eagles’ coaching staff gave their players specific things to work on in the offseason. Williams’ assignments were about getting better as a pass rusher.

Williams took it a step further and really wanted to work on one element he thought could help him.

“Just focused on being more balanced, being more under control,” he said. “I was working with [Brandon Graham] a lot. He was coming off his injury last year, but just being with him, picking his brain throughout the whole process and working with some of the strength coaches around here. Working on balance and my pass rush and things like that were the main focus.”

The Eagles really value versatility on defense and Williams offers that. While he’s probably the most natural fit at the 3-technique, he played a bunch of different spots last year inside and outside. In a lot of ways, Williams was thrown into the deep end, but that experience is helping him now.

In 2022, he might be asked to play fewer positions thanks to the additions of Davis and Haason Reddick, but the Eagles are still going to use Williams’ versatility to their advantage. William said he’s “definitely” grateful for all that experience last year.

“You come in and go straight into it,” he said. “You kind of get a little learning curve but you ain’t really got time for a learning curve. You need to come on with it now. It was definitely an adjustment but once it clicked, you saw it toward the end of the year, it started to turn on for me.”

Williams (6-3, 290) might be considered a bit of a tweener but his size means he can play inside and outside in multiple fronts, which makes him an important piece of this defensive puzzle.

There’s obviously a lot of excitement in Philly right now about Davis and that’s warranted. But don’t sleep on Williams either. He’s looked strong in his second NFL training camp.

What’s stood out to DL coach Tracy Rocker about the second-year pro?

“Positive energy. Wants to get better,” Rocker said. “Wants to be better than he was last year.”

If Williams can do that, no one’s going to forget about him.

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