NFC North: Oldie but goodie

July, 15, 2011
7/15/11
1:00
PM ET
Projecting the best 30-and-over player in my division at the start of the 2014 season:

Many of you were outraged to learn that Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams was not among the nominations for ESPN.com’s Dream Team of Tomorrow. Williams just completed his first full season as a starter, but I bet some of you were surprised to learn that he turned 28 in March.

Fear not. I saved a special place for Williams in this post. He will be 31 at the start of our Dream Team era, and it’s reasonable to think he’ll still be a high-functioning starter at that point, even if his best and fastest days are behind him.

You have to remember, Williams is a new starter but he’s not new to the Packers. His senior season at Louisiana Tech was 2005, and he signed on to the Packers’ practice squad on Nov. 29, 2006. He spent 2007-09 as a backup, rising to the role of nickelback and then replacing an injured Al Harris in late 2009.

I would argue Williams was the Packers’ best defensive back last season, when he was named to the Pro Bowl. Some players reach stardom right away and others are late bloomers. Williams belongs in the latter category, a timetable that leaves him older than most players who have just arrived on the national scene.

Leaving Williams off the Dream Team nomination list was a borderline call, but if anyone in this division is poised for post-30 success, it’s him. He has a clean health history, having never missed a regular-season game, and he plays a low-contact position that offers legitimate hope for success at a relatively advanced age. Williams’ cornerback counterpart with the Packers? It’s Charles Woodson, age 34.

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