In a stacked defensive line rotation with seven former first-round picks, it’s sometimes a little too easy to forget about Milton Williams.
Although, he’s pretty used to it at this point.
“That’s just how it’s always been,” Milton Williams. “I ain’t never been. … I always had to go the hard route to get what I wanted. This ain’t nothing different.”
For all excitement about this Eagles defensive line, Williams can sometimes get lost. But he shouldn’t. The 2021 third-round pick out of Louisiana Tech had a really strong finish to his 2022 season and got off to a good start in the rotation in Week 1.
While Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis and Fletcher Cox take the headlines among the defensive tackles, Williams flies under the radar for many fans.
But not for his defensive coordinator.
“Man, he was so physical,” Sean Desai said. “I think you saw that in the game, striking people, knocking people back at the point of attack. That’s a good edge and a toughness that he brings because he’s so consistent with it. Then he can convert, too, when it’s the play pass, and things like that, when he’s in there. He adds a little bit of rush element to win on it. He falls right in line.
“But you’re right, he does get lost, and he shouldn’t, because he’s a physical player that we really like.”
In the Eagles’ 25-20 win over the Patriots in Week 1, Carter, Davis and Cox all had monster performances but Williams played very well too. He started and had 4 tackles, a QB hit and three pressures.
As for that edge and toughness Desai mentioned, Williams knows exactly what he’s talking about.
“Oh yeah,” Williams said. “You get in between those lines, you gotta flip a little switch. Go to the dark side for a little while. Until that clock hits zero, then I can go back to the regular Milton. But on that field, you gotta be in a different zone for sure.”
Williams, 24, is a pretty laid back guy off the field. But when he’s between the lines, he changes a bit. He’ll jaw with opponents and play with a nasty streak.
Early in his second season last year, Williams dealt with some injuries and got off to a bit of a slow start. In the first six games last season, Williams didn’t have a single sack or a TFL and had just 1 QB hit.
But then he got healthier over the bye week and finished off the last 11 games with 4 sacks, 29 tackles, 9 TFLs and 5 QB hits.
Williams late last year proved that he is an important part of the Eagles’ defensive tackle rotation. While he got the fewest snaps of those top four defensive tackles in Week 1, there’s not the type of disparity you might expect:
Cox: 50 snaps
Carter: 40 snaps
Davis: 35 snaps
Williams: 33 snaps
“We feel that we have the advantage up front,” Williams said. “Wherever you want to slide the line to, whoever you want to double team, you’re going to pick your poison. We just try to take advantage of that and when you get 1-on-1s, make sure you win.”