Vikings great Kevin Williams will be inducted into the Ring of Honor during halftime of the Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings from Sunday. The ceremony must run smoothly. The beginning of his Vikings career – – not so much.
During the 2003 NFL Draft, the Vikings don’t hand in the concept card for Williams on time. Minnesota held 7th overall pick in the draft and was reportedly in trade talks with Jacksonville (8th) and Baltimore (10th). While negotiating parameters for a potential trade, time passed on their choice. Jacksonville and Carolina (9th) quickly submitted their picks for the Vikings. The Squad – Kevin Williams, DT from the State of Oklahoma.
Williams started 42 games at Oklahoma State, racking up 160 tackles and 18.5 sacks over four seasons. He continued his final season with a phenomenal show at the Senior Bowl – the Vikings would notice. Some design experts envisioned Williams as a defensive target, and some even labeled him the dreaded one-year wonder.
The Vikings had no such reservations.
With no real pass-rush option on the roster and Chris Hovan manning the three technique, Minnesota would line up Williams on the left side of defense during his rookie campaign to take advantage of his speed on the ball.
Williams collected 10.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and 51 tackles. Apparently the Vikings had a promising prospect in their hands.
In his sophomore year, the Vikings kicked him in for a defensive tackle with the addition of 2004 first round Kenechi Udeze, a USC defensive end. Udeze, while solid as a pro, would never come out as a pass rusher claiming his design pedigree. Williams, however, would thrive indoors. He finished his sophomore season with 11.5 sacks, 70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and his first touchdown. The 2004 season would also give Kevin his first taste of the playoffs as the Vikings would beat the Packers before losing in the divisional round to the Eagles.
In 2005, the bricks would come out with the signing of free defense tackle Pat Williams. Both he and Kevin would form The Williams Wall. With the exception of their first season together (19th overall), they would dominate opposing hasty regimes. By 2006-2008, they would allow the fewest rushing yards per game, second fewest in 2009 and ninth in 2010. The 2010 campaign would also lead to the retirement of Pat Williams at age 39 and the end of the Williams Wall dominance.
Williams would eventually be linked with a premier pass rusher in 2008 when the Vikings traded for Kansas City defensive end Jared Allen. The two would continue to play together throughout the 2013 season, forming a formidable 1-2 pass rush during that time. Part of Allen’s success with pockets was due to the double teams opponents turned to Kevin. He was so damn dominant. Teams usually prefer to leave Allen one-on-one rather than have Williams raise their guard or center straight up.
Spent time last night with my Vikings Ring of Honor brothers at an Alumni Weekend reception. Thanks, Vikings! Steve Jordan and Kevin Williams and I used a photo op. Great to welcome Kevin to the club. pic.twitter.com/0aqDIyx4KZ
— Carl Eller (@ CarlEller81) October 2, 2021
It is fitting that an old-fashioned player like Williams, someone who uses a mouthpiece for a stick Juicy Fruit Gum, would be included in a legendary list of Ring of Honor names. He sees it as an honour, especially to be mentioned along with the many defensive stars the Vikings already have in the Ring of Honor. Names like Chris Doleman, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Alan Page, Randle and now Williams. This is an honor he deserved.
Getting into the league and taking the number of a Vikings legend and future Hall of Famer in John Randle is never easy, nor would it be recommended. For Williams it is just happened. The team asked him after he was drafted what number he would like, and he chose 93. Little did he know that Randle had previously worn the number and specific resume he had been given while wearing purple. He quickly realized the gravity of the situation, knowing that he had a lot to deliver to be the 9th overall roster and take on number 93.
He did it quickly, and never looked back.