The New York Jets drafted Williams third overall in the 2019 NFL draft after being a consensus top 5 prospect across many big boards. His combination of size, motor, and athleticism was good enough for scouts and teams alike to use an early pick on him even though he started only one season of college football.
To recap, this was William’s final season in Tuscaloosa:
71 Total Tackles, 45 Solo, 19.5 Tackles for Loss, 8.0 Sacks, 1 Pass Deflection
This production came as a piece on a defensive line with Raekwon Davis, Isaiah Buggs, Anfernee Jennings, and Christian Miller. (ALL THESE PLAYERS WERE DRAFTED)
Now 19 games into his professional career and the production doesn’t look similar at all. Through 19 games, his stats are:
52 Total Tackles, 27 Solo, 8 Tackles for Loss, 4.5 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Fumble Recovered
I think you can see the issue here.
However, while his pass-rushing numbers have been less than desirable, that is only one half of the equation on defense. Something that has translated well for Williams at the next level is his run-stopping ability.
The ease with which he clogs two gaps is impressive and is really a testament to his very good and relentless motor. For a team who’s effort is constantly being questioned, Williams brings the competitive edge that you hope can revitalize a defensive line of aging veterans.
Williams lines up a bit inside from before here but the challenge now is he needs to deal with the movement from the offensive line as they block an inside zone. He reads and reacts to the moving linemen, initiates contact first at the POA, and uses his good pad level and play strength to drive Laken Tomlinson back off his anchor essentially negating the scoop block. But most importantly, he disengages from him and tackles Mostert at the LOS.
Rinse and repeat. He doesn’t have to make the tackle, just his presence of leveraging gaps allows other defenders to swarm to the ball carriers like on this read option.
From these three clips alone, we can identify that Williams is good in the following criteria:
Use of Hands
Run Support (Leveraging gap, disengaging blocker, pursuit angles for tackles)
Mental Processing in Run Game
If you’re counting at home, that’s seven (eight if you split competitive toughness from motor) traits in which Williams has an above-average grade. Looking at the current state of interior tackles on the Dallas defensive line, how many of these traits would you say Dontari Poe, Antwaun Woods, and Trysten Hill (before injury) were above average?
The point of that question was to prove how badly this team needs someone like Williams WITHOUT looking at his pass-rushing ability. Sure, you could make the argument that he was a top-three pick in his draft class, but by the same token Poe was once a top ten pick and Trysten Hill was selected before playmaking safeties because of his freakish athletic upside in hopes that he could be a game wrecking three-technique tackle.
As I’m sure I’ve triggered enough of you, let’s talk pass rush.