9. Dan Williams
Williams just completed his first season in Oakland, and he made a huge impact from day one. He was consistent, reliable and disruptive throughout the entire year, appearing in all 16 games — starting 15 of them.
Where Big Dan really thrives is against the run. His ability to occupy blockers and do the dirty work frees up the rest of the front seven to do damage. Khalil Mack, of course, commands a lot of attention, so if the offensive line wants to not pay much attention to Dan, he’ll gladly just make the play himself.
PFF grades aren’t the end-all-be-all, but I do find them useful for players where the box score doesn’t tell their story, like with Dan. PFF graded him as the 15th best interior defender in the NFL in 2015, just above Marcell Dareus and Malik Jackson.
Dareus is on a six-year, $108M contract. Jackson just signed a 6-year, $90M contract. Dan? 4-years, $25M.
Now, those two guys are widely considered elite talents and I’m not saying Dan is better than either. Rather, just pointing out how important Dan is to the team, both from a production standpoint, and with how much of a bargain he is.
– Nick Hjeltness