RSP Writers Project: Matt Williamson, ESPN

I had a feeling Matt Stafford would be on a lot of RSP Writers Project Teams, but after 5-ish used Stafford for his reader’s submission, I haven’t seen Stafford appear until Matt Williamson took the plunge. Photo by Marianne O’Leary.

Matt Williamson’s story is well-known to us at the RSP blog. The former Cleveland Browns scout graciously served as our unofficial quality assurance tester for the writer’s project player values. Due to a communication error on my part, some of the writers built rosters with only two quarterbacks. I’m letting it slide due to the sake of time, but just know that there would have to be some minor adjustments with Williamson’s squad to meet the three-quarterback rule.

I doubt the adjustment would seriously change the make up of his team, which at first glance is an offense with a powerful ground attack complemented by a fearsome vertical passing game, and a 34 defense with most of the money invested in linebackers. Williamson’s team is a fun mix of big and small investments with a lot of players that reflect his eye for talent combined with a willingness to rely on role players that fit his scheme.

I think the last part of that statement is an important one to remember. Good teams aren’t filled with superstars from top to bottom, but they do have a great mix of studs and players that are studly at a limited number of tasks. See comments for guys Chris Rainey and Williamson gets it.

At the same time, he also found potential bargains. His tight ends are a great example. If Fred Davis can stay away from situations where he has to be his own lawyer and Tony Moeaki can avoid the doctor’s office, this offense can be a juggernaut. The same can be said for the defense – especially the secondary.


Matt Williamson believes Kaepernick could earn his team dividends in a future trade. Photo by Daily Sports Herald
Quarterback Depth Chart
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and/or fit within the system)
QB1 Matt Stafford 16 Already knocking on the door of the elite, Stafford is a superstar in the making. I did consider going all in on Aaron Rodgers, but in a few years, the difference between these two might be minimal. He just needs to stay healthy, but I have zero doubts about Stafford’s toughness or will to win.
QB2 Colin Kaepernick 3.5 I did feel like I needed a strong backup quarterback considering Stafford’s injury history. Ideally, I would have liked to have two decent backups, but I just didn’t see anyone worth it on the cheap. Kaepernick is dripping with ability and has all the tools I am looking for in this deep passing game. Give him a little time and some great preseason film, and this guy might yield me a bounty in trade. He is still one of my very favorite quarterback prospects in the NFL and will take over for Alex Smith sooner than later.
Running Back Depth Chart

Matt Williamson thought Trent Richardson should have been the highest-valued running back in this project. Photo by Mike Pettigano.
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
RB1 Trent Richardson 7.5 If I were to put values on all the running backs in this project, Richardson would have had the most value. I had no intentions of spending so much for my top running back, but this guy is just too special. Do you bring extra defenders near the line of scrimmage to handle this bell cow runner or do you play the pass to defend Stafford? I don’t see a good answer to that problem for opposing defenses.
RB2 Rashad Jennings 3 Jennings is the perfect pure backup running back to me in what I plan on having as a physical power running game. He should rebound strong for the Jaguars this year after missing all of last season. Of course he isn’t Richardson, but his running style is similar, so we wouldn’t have to drastically change the playbook if Richardson were to go down.
RB3 WR Chris Rainey 2 Rainey actually could end up being my slot receiver. He certainly will have a lot of value on special teams-and not just as a returner. I wanted a little bit of electricity and a different skill set from most of my offensive players. Rainey fits that perfectly. He also has shown a great knack for blocking kicks and punts. Rainey will be very useful, but I won’t put too much on his plate.
Wide Receiver Depth Chart

Greg Little is a popular pick for the RSP Writers. Add Matt Williamson to that list. Photo by Erik Daniel Drost.
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
WR1 A.J. Green 9 I am the biggest A.J. Green supporter you will find and I expect him to quickly be in the conversation as the best receiver in the league. Stafford to Green with Richardson in the backfield to keep defenses honest? I can live with that for the next 8-10 years.
WR2 Greg Little 4 Little showed some real good things as a rookie. He also had his struggles. But…he came to UNC as a running back, didn’t play at all his senior season, and then didn’t get mini camps as a rookie as he transition to the NFL. Oh, and Colt McCoy was throwing him the ball! I think having Stafford delivering him the rock could pay off huge for me. He can be great. Also, with a lack of slot options on my roster, we are going to give Little a try in that role much like the Saints use Marques Colston, although Colston has shown to have far better hands to this point.
WR3 Brandon LaFell 3 Can LaFell be an excellent No.2 receiver? I think so. For $3 million a year, that is all I needed to know as my No.3-No.4 receiver. When out there with Green and Little, we will have a huge three-receiver set that also is adept at blocking for Richardson. LaFell hasn’t been very productive yet, but I am banking that it will come.
WR4 Golden Tate 1.5 It would have been ideal to roster a fifth wide out, but felt like my tight ends and Rainey could pick up that slack. Without a true, proven slot guy on my roster, I will ask Tate to grab a hold of that role. He showed some good things in the second half of the 2011 season and also might have some special teams value. Tate is very much worth the $1.5 million he cost me and could play plenty of snaps for my team once injuries hit during the season.
Fullback and Tight End Depth Chart

Marcel Reece joins James Casey, Fred Davis, and Tony Moeaki in an offense filled with versatile options. Photo by Jeffery Beall.
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
FB RB Marcel Reece 1.5 I want versatile weapons on offense-guys that can align in numerous positions. Reece is perfect for this. He will block, get carries, catch passes and be one of my core special teams players. I only have three running backs on my roster, so Reece will factor into that depth chart quite a bit. I love the way he can impact a game as a pass-catcher. Calling Reece a “fullback” on my roster is very vague for what he will be asked to do.
TE1 Fred Davis 2.5 Tight ends were a bargain in this team building. Davis is a real difference maker who I expect to totally break out in Washington this year in the Shannon Sharpe mold for Mike Shanahan When we are in 11 Personnel, which should be a high percentage of the time, how will the opponent focus on Davis with Richardson, Green, Little and LaFell on the field?
TE2 Tony Moeaki 1.5 Moeaki has an extensive injury history, but I thought he was one of the best bargains overall in this entire exercise. So, I had to have him. He will play a ton and brings better blocking than my other guys at this position. There will be a heavy offensive skill position rotation, but when in 12 Personnel, Moeaki is the most likely candidate for the second tight end spot with Davis.
TE3 FB James Casey 2.5 Like Reece, Casey’s versatility is huge. At times, he might be Richardson’s lead blocker, but more importantly, this is an excellent athlete who is about to become a household name for the Texans in 2012. A bit of a wild card, Casey could pay off huge.
Tackle Depth Chart
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
LT1 Branden Albert 6 Albert is very much on the rise right now and has stated to come into his own overall. He has developed into a very good pass protector and that, of course, will be his main responsibility, as he is in charge of Stafford’s blind side. I am very comfortable with Albert in that role. Maybe in time, another left tackle falls into my lap and I move Albert to the right side or guard.
RT1 Starting RG Cordy Glenn 5 Glenn is going to start somewhere, most likely at right tackle. He is a masher who the Bills think can be a starting left tackle. While I don’t share that belief, I do think he is a great backup on the left side, but more likely the starting right tackle for years to come for my crew.
RT2 Situational TE Bobby Massie 3 Massie is a fine athlete that fell quite a bit on draft day, but at three million a year, this rookie is worth the risk as a developmental tackle prospect-most likely on the right side. In the meantime, I could see 2012 being a red-shirt type season for him.
RG1 Starting LG Marcus Cannon 2 I see Cannon as more of a guard than tackle, but I think he is a three position player that also would not be a liability at right tackle. At guard, I think he could be exceptional. He has a great chance to start, or at the least, be my sixth offensive lineman on game day.
Guard Depth Chart
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
LG1 Geoff Schwartz 3 Schwartz played very well before his 2011 hip injury. The Vikings were wise to snag him this offseason to fortify their line. Like I do. Minnesota views Schwartz as a starting caliber guard.
LG2 Brandon Brooks 3 A huge powerful man that the Texans think is athletic enough to fit their zone blocking scheme, Brooks is a great looking young prospect. He should be a starting guard on my squad before long.
RG2 Backup C Rex Hadnot 1.5 Hadnot, a true wide body, is a power player that has an aggressive edge to his game. He doesn’t have a lot of upside at this point of his career, but he can play any of the three interior positions and should hold down the fort until someone like Brooks or Cannon emerges. He is the ideal backup at all three interior spots though and his aggression could be contagious. It wouldn’t surprise me if Hadnot won a starting job with his new team, San Diego.
Center Depth Chart
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
C1 Eric Wood 4.5 Wood is a great player, but few seem to know it. Finding offensive line bargains in this exercise was extremely tough to do, but I think I have one in Wood, who will be the leader of my young offensive line.
C2 Backup G Doug Legursky 1 Frankly, Legursky is cheap. He is far from pretty, but overall, he doesn’t embarrass himself out there and has the ability to fill in at any of the three interior spots. A pure backup, but he is an acceptable one.

Defense and Special Teams

Eric Berry, you’re about to rival Darrelle Revis as the most popular defensive back on RSP Writers teams AFTER Dwight Lowery. Photo by Wade Rackley.
Cornerback and Safety Depth Chart
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and/or fit within the system)
SS1  Eric Berry 6 Berry will be the best safety in the league within the next two years. He does it all. Enough said.
FS1 Nickel CB  Danieal Manning 2.5 Manning isn’t nearly in Berry’s class, but he too can do a lot of things from his starting safety position. He can walk down on a slot receiver, play the deep half or the deep middle. He is strong in man and zone coverage and overall, is just a difficult guy to throw on. Also, he is an accomplished return man. Manning is one of the best bargains on my team.
SS2  Craig Steltz 0.5 Steltz, Grimm, and Lowery will be core special teams players, but they also will compete to the be the third safety when we decide to go to our Big Nickel package. I give Steltz the best shot of winning that job because he has shown that he can do everything well-even at a very young age. This guy was a steal at half a million dollars per season.
SS2  Cody Grimm 0.5 Grimm is  tough and aggressive. Just a very young player, he should improve. But I see Grimm as a stud on special teams and a very good backup safety. The Bucs did miss him after his 2011 injury.
FS2  Dwight Lowery 0.5 More of a free safety type than someone I want near the line of scrimmage a great deal, Lowery is another quality safety that came on the cheap. Of course special teams will be key for him as well.
RCB1 Returner  Patrick Peterson 9 I didn’t even take Peterson’s fantastic return skills into account when I added him to my roster. But that sure doesn’t hurt his cause. But simply put, Peterson is my Revis. He will go one on one with every No.1 receiver we face and more often than not, will be on an island. Peterson will be Revis’ heir to the Cornerback Throne before long. Considering what is around him at corner, Peterson is my defensive player that I could least afford to get injured.
LCB1  Chris Cook 0.5 I love Cook’s size…and his price tag. Can I count on Cook? Maybe not. But if he hits, he will hit big. And when he plays, Cook has played well. In fact, he is one of the few corners that can compete with today’s big receivers and athletic tight ends.
LCB2 Nickel CB  Brice McCain 1 McCain is exactly what you look for in a slot cornerback. To me, that position is truly a starter and I fully expect McCain to log a lot of snaps for me in our sub package defenses.
RCB2  Ras-I Dowling 1 Who knows what we are getting in Dowling, but I really liked his skills when evaluating him coming out of college. Just stay healthy! But Dowling is a possible starter for sure.
RCB2  Keenan Lewis 0.5 Lewis might end up as the Steelers starting cornerback this season. He will never be great, but if he is adequate (often with safety help), I can live with that-especially considering the guys I have coming after the QB.
LCB2 Nickel CB  Justin Tryon 1 Like many of the cheap young players, Tryon was injured in 2011, but played quite well before and was on the rise before his injury. He will compete with a slew of other corners for playing time and special teams will be crucial.
Linebacker Depth Chart

Great linebacker? Stud? Matt Williamson thinks this of Sean Weatherspoon. The former Missouri linebacker will have to prove it in a new scheme. Photo by Wunderlich Photography.
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
WLB1  Von Miller 9.5 After just one season, Miller is already one of the most impressive defensive players from top to bottom in the NFL. And it will only get better. Perfect for a 3-4, Miller will terrorize offenses for years to come. I love this guy.
SLB1  Lamarr Woodley 7 Peterson, Berry, Weatherspoon, and Miller will be the elite young building blocks of my defense, but Woodley is next on that list-and a fantastic 3-4 OLB opposite Miller! He is used to winning a lot of games and is one of the older guys on my roster. He will be called upon in a leadership role.
SLB2  Rob Ninkovich 2 As my No.3 OLB in this 34 defense, Ninkovich is a fantastic value. He has versatility, does everything the position demands quite well and should be a demon on special teams.
WLB2  Jermaine Cunningham 0.5 Originally drafted by the Patriots to fit its 3-4 scheme as an outside linebacker, I don’t think Cunningham has yet to give us an appropriate sample of what he is capable of. I don’t have much invested in the guy, but adding this youngster could pay off.
MLB1 Nickel LB  Sean Weatherspoon 7 Few seem to know it, but Weatherspoon is a superstar. He will never leave the field in my defense and will be our leader who wears the headset in his helmet. I was totally sold on Sean Lee as my top inside linebacker, but I actually might like Weatherspoon just a bit more-and he came cheaper. He doesn’t have 3-4 experience, but I think he can thrive in this scheme if we protect him reasonably well.
MLB2  Erin Henderson 3.5 This was another guy that I just thought was a steal and too good to pass up for the price. I haven’t quite figured out my nickel and dime personnel groupings-that will come during training camp-but Henderson and Weatherspoon very well could be my Willis & Bowman, never leaving the field. Henderson is better vs. the run than the pass though. He was quietly great last season.
MLB3  Stevenson Sylvester 1 Experienced in this defensive system, Sylvester has shown a knack for making plays when called upon in the preseason. He is active and covers a lot of ground. Obvioulsy special teams will be where he makes his greatest impact and he is very good covering kicks. We are stressing range and athletic ability from our inside ‘backers.
MLB4  Chase Blackburn 0.5 Blackburn’s job is to assert himself as my special team captain-and if thrown in as a LB, he has proven that he is capable. Plus, I was with Chase at the University of Akron…so that might have helped a little!
Defensive End and Tackle Depth Chart

Dan Williams will anchor the defensive front. Photo by Wade Rackley.
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
NT  Dan Williams 1 An up and coming nose tackle who broke his arm last year. Still very young, Williams’ best days should be ahead of him. And with as much sub package defense that is played in the NFL now, a starting 3-4 nose tackle isn’t forced to play a ton of snaps.
NT2 Backup DT  Antonio Dixon 0.5 One of many value defensive linemen, Dixon tore his triceps in October, which finished his 2011 season. But before the injury, he proved to be a very difficult guy to move in the run game. Probably best as a power defensive tackle in a 4-3, which we will run some of, Dixon also is most likely my backup nose tackle as well and will spell Williams in that role.
LDE3 Backup DT  Stephen Paea 0.5 Like Peters, Paea doesn’t have a real defined role right now. He is young and fits a 4-3 at defensive tackle better than a 3-4, but for his minimal price, I just want Paea to give me 5-10 quality snaps per game…and we will go from there is he shows his worth.
RDE3 Backup DT  Corey Peters 0.5 I just like Peters’ abilities and quite frankly, his cost. I think he will contribute somewhere. I don’t know exactly, but for this price, he should be a valuable member all over the defensive line and has a chance to develop into a difference maker.
DT4 Backup DT  Drake Nevis 0.5 This is the one guy that just doesn’t fit. He really is not a 3-4 player at all in the traditional sense. But the only thing I want from Nevis is to be my only true up field quick-twitch guy to be disruptive from a defensive tackle position on throwing downs. He is a specialty player for my squad and brings something to the table that my other defensive linemen do not. Nevis runs so well, that he might even be able to help out on special teams.
LDE1  Kendall Langford 2 Langford is going to be a defensive tackle now for the Rams, but he has extensive history as a 3-4 defensive end – and that is what I will ask of him in a starting role. Langford also might be one of my interior pass rushers in subpackage defenses.
RDE1  Mike Devito 1 DeVito will not be on the field on passing downs, but he is a bitch to run against. He is just the type of player that offensive linemen hate playing against. That is who I want on my squad. And he should be a fantastic influence on the slew of young defensive linemen I have assembled.
RDE2  Adam Carriker 0.5 Carriker is a very safe pick and most likely my opening day starter at defensive end opposite Langford. A much better player than given credit for, Carriker is a quality starter. This former high first-round pick will log quality minutes.
LDE2  Cameron Heyward 0.5 We haven’t seen much of Heyward at the NFL level yet, but the Steelers know what they are doing and Heyward has a ton of ability to develop into a quality starting 3-4 defensive end. At the price, I just couldn’t pass this one up. My defensive line will all about rotating bodies in and out. Heyward fits that well right now and has upside for much more.
LDE2 Starting LOLB  Jerry Hughes 0.5 Despite how I had to have him listed, Hughes will play outside linebacker in my 3-4 scheme-and could surprise. He has obvious ability and reports so far in the Colts’ new defensive scheme have been favorable. Of course the former first round pick will have to make his bones on special teams first.
Final Special Teams Roster
Kicker and Punter Depth Chart
Starters Name Value Commentary (Why did you choose the player for special teams and what Role (optional) will he play?)
K1 Billy Cundiff 1.5 Yeah, he missed a huge kick last year and that is what everyone will remember, but this is a high quality kicker that I got at a discount rate.
P1 Kevin Huber 0.5 Huber is very cheap-and he isn’t terrible. Sold. We will upgrade the Punter spot next offseason if need-be.
Kick Coverage Team
Name Commentary (Why did you choose the player for special teams and what Role (optional) will he play?)
Ras I Dowling
Bryce McCain
Keenan Lewis
Rob Ninkovich
Stevenson Sylvester
Chase Blackburn
Craig Steltz
Cody Grimm
Dwight Lowery
Justin Tryon
Punt Coverage Team
Name Commentary (Why did you choose the player for special teams and what Role (optional) will he play?)
Golden Tate
Tony Moeaki
James Casey
Rob Ninkovich
Stevenson Sylvester
Chase Blackburn
Craig Steltz
Cody Grimm
Dwight Lowery
Bryce McClain
Justin Tryon

Tomorrow: Matt Williamson’s Q&A

2 responses to “RSP Writers Project: Matt Williamson, ESPN”

  1. I like this guys team the best. Stafford if healthy T-Rich, and AJ Green? Wow! Plus Peterson and Berry at corner.. Good luck passing on this team. Great Job!

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