Williams earned All-America honors by Pro Football Weekly as well as first-team All-ACC recognition in 2012. He finished his senior season with 42 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.
“Not only is he an excellent athlete at a need position, a position we’ve been looking at for a while now, but he’s a fine young man,” Denver head coach John Fox said. “He’s got short-area quickness, he’s got good size, excellent body control, he’s got decent length arms, so he’s got all of the physical tools it takes, so hopefully that carries over to production.”
The Jefferson City, Mo. enrolled at UNC in January 2011 after playing two seasons of junior college ball at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. Williams nearly dropped out of high school before graduating and eventually making radiator parts at Modine Manufacturing Company.
“I’m so proud of Sylvester and what he’s accomplished in his life,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora said in a school release. “He’s worked incredibly hard to accomplish his goals and Denver will be a great fit for him. Sly overcame several obstacles in his past to earn his degree from North Carolina and be selected in the NFL Draft. He was a selfless leader who did everything to help our team win.”
Ten of UNC's last 13 first-round draft picks have been defensive linemen. Offensive guard Jonathan Cooper was selected earlier in the evening by the Arizona Cardinals with the No. 7 pick.