Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 4/15/13

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 20: Vince Wilfork #75 of the New England Patriots smiles during warm ups gainst the Cincinnati Bengals during their preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 20, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Vince Wilfork isn’t going to be around forever, which the Patriots are unhappily aware of. So, the search for his eventually replacement will need to happen soon, if it isn’t already. Wilfork is already 31 years old and his contract runs through the 2014 season, at the end of which he’ll be 33. That gives the Patriots, at the very least, another two seasons to find someone to fill the massive hole — both figurative and literal — he’ll leave in the middle of that defense. Alabama’s Jesse Williams‘ size and strength make him fairly comparable to Wilfork. His brute force and relentless hustle are also reminiscent of big No. 75, although a direct comparison would be unfair to both players. Wilfork may be the best interior lineman in the NFL and Williams is a young Australian who is still developing as a student and player of the game. But Williams would only add to the Patriots’ line and offer Wilfork a reliable backup. He would also give the Patriots another massive interior defender, alongside Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, on short-yardage and goal line packages. Not to mention what  a few years learning under the five-time Pro Bowler would do for him as a player going forward. Williams spent just two years playing under Nick Saban, but he became an immediate starter and impact player with the Crimson Tide. Saban coached under Bill Belichick in Cleveland and the hoodie seems to take his former mentee’s opinion in high regard — as was the case when drafting Dont’a Hightower in 2012. So, it wouldn’t be a great surprise to see Belichick picking from the Bama tree once again. Editor’s Note: NESN.com will evaluate and analyze one potential Patriots draft prospect every day from March 27 up until the start of the NFL Draft on April 25. Williams is the 18th player in that series. Combine Measures: Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 323 pounds *40 Time:  4.84 seconds Bench Press: 30 reps *This number reflects Williams’ 40 time at the Alabama pro day. He did not run at the combine. Key Stats: After spending two years at a junior college, Williams transferred into Alabama and immediately became a starter on the defensive line. He started all 13 games in 2011 and 13 more in 2012, recording 61 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss during his two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He also had an impact on special teams, blocking a kick, and often lined up as a lead blocker in the Tide’s goal line set on offense. Potential Impact: Williams is best fit as a nose tackle in the NFL, but he is capable of playing different positions in 3-4 base defenses as well. His strength should translate very well over the pros, clogging up holes and forcing opposing running backs to divert from their original lanes. He would fit in as a good backup for Vince Wilfork up the middle and could eventually take over for him as the anchor of this defense a few years down the line. Likelihood He’s Around at No. 29: Most likely. Williams is one of the top defensive tackles in this year’s draft, but his lack of versatility along the line may seem him fall to the second round. The Steelers (17th overall), Cowboys (18th), Colts (24th) and Broncos (28th) may all be looking for some interior help, too. But if the Patriots want Williams, he should be around for the taking at the end of the first round. Game Tape breakdown: Strengths: Williams didn’t break the NFL combine bench press record as he originally claimed, but he is incredibly strong. He uses his strength to power through smaller lineman and clog up running holes, forcing backs outside. He uses good leverage to get position in short-yardage situations and knows how to avoid cut blocks. He’s relentless in pursuit and hustles on every play, even after getting knocked to the ground. Weaknesses: He doesn’t have great speed or athleticism, which hurts him against quicker guards against both the pass and run. He gets caught up working or hand fighting on blocks too often and needs to disengage earlier and more regularly. He’s also doesn’t get a consistent push in the pass rush. Scout Williams for yourself below. Next Up: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia Other potential prospects: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State | Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee | Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse  | Alex Okafor, DE, Texas | Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor | Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina | Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia | David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State | Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee | Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut | Margus Hunt, DT, SMU | Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M | Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU | Barrett Jones, C, Alabama | DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson | Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State | Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Richardson charged for resisting arrest after high-speed chase

Yankees finally get Dustin Ackley

Five most overrated teams in the CFB preseason coaches’ poll

Padres manager pulled players to give media ‘something to think about’

Robert Kraft signs fan’s ‘Free Brady’ poster


Jerry Jones supports Joseph Randle as Cowboys’ starting RB

Dallas Cowboys place Darren McFadden on PUP list

Mark Cuban: Brady suspension should be more severe

Darrelle Revis thinks AFC East will be NFL’s toughest division

David Price traded to Blue Jays

Joey Bosa among four OSU players suspended for opener

Cardinals ink billion dollar TV deal from Fox Sports Midwest

Spurs Jesus catches burglar, holds him down for police

Will the San Francisco Giants end up standing pat?

Puig: Broke out of slump by playing baseball video games

Braves dump risk, exchange it for risk

Cole Hamels deal: What is the true price of rebuilding?

William ‘Refrigerator’ Perry auctioning off Super Bowl ring

Affairs of the Hart (Trophy)

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Terry Collins writes letter to widow of longtime Mets fan

Jets fans fly "Cheaters Look Up" banner over Patriots practice

Dodgers upgrade rotation in unexpected, intelligent way

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Will the Giants end up standing pat?

Puig: Broke out of slump by playing baseball video games

Braves dump risk, exchange it for risk

David Price traded to Blue Jays

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Cole Hamels chose Rangers over Astros

Can Preller fix the mess in San Diego?

Next summer's top 10 NBA free agents

Who is the NL's new top shortstop?

Cardinals HC Bruce Arians calls Jen Welter a 'trailblazer'

Mets still act like a small-market team

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker