The Cincinnati Bengals have been lucky to hold onto DeShawn Williams for as long as they have.
A promising defensive tackle, Williams had multiple chances to join different teams in recent years after being the victim of crowded defensive lines in Cincinnati, but the Bengals managed to hold onto him thus far.
Where does Williams stand on the current depth chart and will he make the 53-man roster?
Weight: 295 pounds
Hometown: Central, S.C.
Experience: Second-year player in 2017
According to Spotrac, Williams is currently signed to a two-year deal, which he is entering the second year of. He will be paid $540,000 in 2017 if he makes the final roster. He’s set to be an exclusive rights free agent in 2018.
Williams has been a preseason all-star for the Bengals ever since joining the team as an undrafted free agent out of Clemson in 2015. He was easily one of the best defensive linemen in the 2015 preseason for Cincinnati, especially when it came to his ability to get pressure up the middle. However, the Bengals were already too deep with guys like Domata Peko, Geno Atkins, Pat Sims and Brandon Thompson taking up roster spots.
After being axed during final cuts, Williams spent all of 2015 on the Bengals' practice squad and was even offered a chance to join the Saints’ 53-man roster, but stayed in Cincinnati instead.
Williams had another promising training camp and preseason last year, which led to him making the final 53-man roster. However, the defensive tackle was the unfortunate victim of the Bengals needing a roster spot late in the season for an extra long-snapper. He was waived in order to make room for Tyler Ott prior to the Week Week 12 game vs the Ravens.
Williams once more had the chance to join another team, but he instead re-signed with Cincinnati once cornerback Chykie Brown was placed on I.R. Even so, Williams ended up being a gameday inactive for all but four games during the 2016 season. Still, the Bengals like his potential as a backup defensive tackle behind Geno Atkins, as well as being a capable pass-rusher.
Once again, Williams is facing some stiff odds as to making the final roster. He got lucky last year with injuries to Andrew Billings and Marcus Hardison, as well as Brandon Thompson being on PUP and then IR, allowing him to secure a roster spot.
All three of those guys are back and healthy this year, so Williams is going to have to take his game to another level to make the roster this year. He’s experienced two good years of development on the practice squad and 53-man roster, so he could be in for a big showing in camp and the preseason once again.
Still, it’s hard to see Williams taking a spot from someone like Sims or a young talent like Hardison. And that’s not even accounting for rookie defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow, who’s likely to make the roster as a fourth-round pick this season.
Williams is a good interior pass-rusher, but that’s also the specialty of Glasgow and Hardison, two guys who have draft capital invested in them while also having multiple years left on their rookie deals.
While Williams has the talent to make a lot of team’s 53-man rosters, Cincinnati just isn’t a good situation for him right now. He’ll need to prove a lot to make the team again this season.
Odds: 30 percent