When you think of good Tennessee Titans rookies from last year, you immediately think of Taylor Lewan and why wouldn't you? He was a huge player with top-end athleticism and he was great despite not getting real reps early in the season. There is no reason to believe that he won't be a very talented offensive tackle for the rest of his career.
However, there is another name you may not think about as quickly that deserves some recognition too: Avery Williamson. The former rookie from Kentucky quietly had some very good games last year and racked up 79 tackles despite not playing the first two games of the season.
The hard thing with Williamson wasn't to find a game he looked good in, it was the find the game he looked best in. However, taking down Big Ben is a special thing to Titans fans, so I choose his week 11 performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
-Midway through the first series he makes a play that doesn't show up on the stat sheet. Maurkice Pouncey is trying to pull around and create a lane for Le'Veon Bell, but Williamson sees it and immediately meets him where he is trying to go. By doing this, he stops Pouncey from opening a lane and allows Jurrell Casey to make a big TFL.
-Again another play that doesn't show up on film. Williamson meets Bell in the hole but Bell puts a move on him to get to the outside. Instead of giving up, Williamson pulls at his shoulder and keeps him from speeding up or cutting inside by keeping that leverage on him. This allows the Titans defense to swarm and make a tackle to force a field goal.
-Later in the game, Williamson harasses Bell and doesn't let him break out to get a pass. This forces Big Ben to pass the ball somewhere he doesn't want to and it results in the Steelers not getting the first down.
-Williamson pops Bell hard in the pile with 3:12 left in the first quarter. Bell strings the play along, but he can't shake the rookie.
-This time Williamson comes in on a blitz that breaks down the pocket and forces Big Ben to make a bad pass to a wide open wide receiver that falls harmlessly.
-Again Williamson comes into the middle of the pile and brings some pop to Bell. He is not afraid of black and gold OR whoever is wearing those uniforms.
-Damion Stafford alert. He just almost blows up Dri Archer, luckily Archer dropped it.
-Williamson patiently waits and lets other defenders try to blow up Bell. Instead he waits and makes the secure tackle after them miss.
-Gruden is talking about how impressed he is with Williamson calling the plays as a rookie. The following play Avery Williamson comes in and helps bring down Big Ben for a sack.
-Williamson doesn't engage from his blocker but comes up with an impressive one-armed take down on the best back in the NFL last year.
-And there it is Avery Williamson with a take down on Big Ben. During the entire play Williamson was just blatantly held, but the analysts couldn't talk about it because they were raving how much better the Titans were when they blitzed, something fans will see more of this year.
-And there he comes again after a nice stunt drawing the offensive line to the left Williamson comes over on the right side and just rips him down for another sack.
-After that it is a close game, but other holes in the defense allow the Steelers to go on a long sustained drive that puts the nail in the coffin. However, in a game against an experienced offensive line, a Hall of Fame quarterback, and one of the best running backs in the league, Williamson held his own. Not only that, but he played above and beyond his position, and he did so in a game played in Nashville that entirely too few Titans fans went to. Instead of feeling demoralized, Williamson must have looked in the mirror and said, "I am going to show them what they are missing out on." and he went on to play his best game of the year.