Jesse Williams | Defensive Tackle | Alabama | 6'4'', 320 pounds
Tuscaloosa, Alabama is where massive defensive lineman turn into blue chip NFL prospects. The Crimson tide have been churning out top notch defensive tackles in recent years, and Jesse Williams has added to that trend this season.
The 6'4'', 320-pound defensive tackle is a load to handle up front. In addition to his massive frame, Williams exhibits surprising athleticism, making him an ideal lineman for today's NFL.
While Star Lotulelei and Sheldon Richardson have generated the most buzz from the defensive tackle position in this draft, Williams isn't far off in terms of physical ability. Williams has the talent to land in the top half of the first round, but team needs will dictate exactly where he comes off the board.
Pros: The first thing that jumps off the screen when watching Williams is that he plays with excellent pad level. Despite his height, Williams always seems to get lower than his opponent, allowing him to anchor the middle of the defensive line and making him tough to drive off the ball. Williams is constantly demanding double teams inside and does a terrific job eating up blockers. He does an excellent job of shedding blocks, making him equally effective in the ground game and when rushing the passer. While he's somewhat inconsistent in this area, Williams exhibits impressive use of his hands
Williams would seem to be an ideal fit at nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, but he could also clog the middle as a 4-3 defensive tackle. He always seems to get a nice jump off the line of scrimmage, showing a strong sense for when the ball will be snapped. Williams also displayed a mean streak on the inside, which is one of the most important traits a defensive tackle can have. Run defense is obviously his strength, but Williams' shedding ability and short-area quickness make him a threat to penetrate the pocket on passing downs as well. Having not played football until age 15 after coming to the United States from Australia, Williams has plenty of room to grow and offers a lot of upside in the NFL.
Cons: Williams is constantly learning how to play the game of football, which is evident by his occasional lack of play recognition. He will allow himself to be taken out of a play at times by pursuing the wrong gap.
While Williams is certainly a fine raw athlete, he could stand to condition himself better to last late in games. Adding some strength to his lower body would also help him last longer into games and not have to rely on his massive upper body strength so often.
Conclusion: Jesse Williams presents an interesting draft options for teams in need of defensive linemen. He provides scheme versatility, having played 3-technique and nose tackle while at Alabama. He could fit into either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense and instantly make an impact against the run from day one.
Player Comparison: Sione Pouha, New York Jets - Like Pouha, Williams excels more against than run than when he is rushing the passer. The key difference between Pouha and Williams is the level of awareness Pouha has developed as a veteran player in the NFL. If Williams can progress in that area of his game, he should be able to find a similar level of success as Pouha has.
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