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AFC East's best: No. 6 Mario Williams

By Tim Graham

WilliamsMMugThe countdown of my top 25 AFC East players continues, one weekday at a time ...

The choice

Defensive end Mario Williams is a culture-changing player for the Buffalo Bills. He's an elite pass-rusher who should help transform the Bills' defense from perennial doormat status into respectability. His decision to sign -- and the Bills aggressively making him the richest defensive player in NFL history -- jolted an organization and its fan base into believing they can do some damage in the AFC East.

He's returning from a torn pectoral muscle in his last season with the Houston Texans. The injury occurred in Week 5 while making his team-leading (at the time) fifth sack.

Old friend Bill Barnwell at points out that over Williams' first five seasons with the Texans, he accounted for 33.6 percent of their sacks. The only two players with a higher percentage of their teams' totals were Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis.

Williams drove the Texans' sackometer despite frequent double teams. The Texans had nobody to help on the opposite side. Williams was the only Texan with six or more sacks in any of those seasons.

Williams is a two-time Pro Bowl starter and has been voted second-team All-Pro once. NFL Alumni voted him defensive lineman of the year for 2007, when he amassed 14 sacks, two forced fumbles and a recovery for a touchdown.

Fast fact

For the Texans in 2010, his last "fullish" season, Williams recorded team-highs with 8.5 sacks, 10 tackles for losses and 19 quarterback hits before missing the last three games.

How acquired

Signed as a free agent from the Houston Texans in 2012.

Hint about No. 5

He's under contract, but he's not thrilled about it.

Picks to date

6. Mario Williams, Bills defensive end
7. Vince Wilfork, Patriots nose tackle
8. Jake Long, Dolphins left tackle
9. Logan Mankins, Patriots left guard
10. Cameron Wake, Dolphins outside linebacker
11. Fred Jackson, Bills running back
12. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jets left tackle
13. Kyle Williams, Bills defensive tackle
14. Sione Pouha, Jets defensive tackle
15. Jairus Byrd, Bills safety
16. Brandon Lloyd, Patriots receiver
17. Stevie Johnson, Bills receiver
18. Reggie Bush, Dolphins running back
19. Jerod Mayo, Patriots inside linebacker
20. Randy Starks, Dolphins defensive lineman
21. Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots right tackle
22. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots tight end
23. Marcell Dareus, Bills defensive tackle
24. Antonio Cromartie, Jets cornerback
25. Eric Wood, Bills center

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |