Roy Williams was the first great pick by the Cowboys
during the 2000s. The fact that the Cowboys unceremoniously dumped him today after the team was unable to find a trade partner is a sad ending to what could have been a more glorious career.
Williams began his career in 2002 as a free safety, starting next to a legend in Darren Woodson. The tandem reminded people of the Cliff Harris-Charlie Waters duo of the 1970s, given that both Woodson and Williams both possessed the ability to hit. And hit hard they did.
Williams was the subject of highlight reels as he made five consecutive Pro Bowls. But there were parts of his game that tarnished his reputation. Beginning in 2005, his coverage skills began to become exposed, and this problem worsened in more recent years. Moreover, his tackling skills did not match his hitting power. He relied heavily on the horse collar tackle, and when the league outlawed it in 2005, he continued to rely on the horse collar tackle. The play he made in the shot above led to a one-game suspension in 2007.
Despite making five Pro Bowls, which equals Darren Woodson’s total, few would place Williams in the top tier category with the likes of Mel Renfro, Cliff Harris, or Woodson. Williams probably falls into a second tier along with Charlie Waters.
Consider these safeties:
Best of the Best
Mel Renfro (safety, 1964-69; cornerback, 1970-77): Renfro made six consecutive Pro Bowls as a safety during the 1960s. He later moved to cornerback and made four more Pro Bowls.
Cliff Harris (1970-79): Harris should receive much more consideration for the Hall of Fame. He made six Pro Bowls, was a member of the NFL’s All-1970s team, and is a member of the Ring of Honor.
Darren Woodson (1992-2003): Woodson was the prototype of the modern free safety– big enough to be a linebacker, but fast and agile enough to cover tight ends and slot receivers. There has been a bit of a push from fans to have Jerry Jones consider Woodson for the Ring of Honor. If only Williams had learned a bit more from Woody…
Very Good, but Flawed
Charlie Waters (safety, 1975-81): Waters was a mediocre cornerback who develped into a Pro Bowl safety. He was one of the best playoff performers in team history.
Roy Williams (2002-08): He will be remembered more for his flaws than for his five Pro Bowls.
Bill Bates (1983-1997): Bates was better known for his special teams play than as a great starting safety.
Michael Downs (1981-1988): Downs was a longtime starter, but his play never rose to the level of Waters or Harris.
Dexter Clinkscale (1980, 1982-85): A member of Thurman’s Thieves, Clinkscale made some memorable plays, but he was not a great overall safety.
Ray Horton (1989-1992): Horton was a decent safety during the years just before the dynasty began.
James Washington (1990-1994): Many people remember Washington thanks to his heroics in Super Bowl XXVIII. Overall, though, he was not an outstanding safety.
Thomas Everett (1992-1993): Everett was an important part of the 1992 and 1993 Super Bowl teams, but he was not in Dallas long enough to be considered a great one in team history.
Brock Marion (1993-1997): Marion became a Pro Bowl player in Miami, but he was not quite as good while he was with Dallas.
George Teague (1996, 1998-2001): Teague was adequate as a safety, but he is best remembered for knocking over another now-former Cowboy: