Much has been said about the defensive talent in this year’s NFL Draft. With talents like Nick Bosa, Josh Allen , and Ed Oliver, we could be looking back at this draft as possibly the best defensive draft the NFL has ever seen.
Even with all of these options that teams have at the top of the draft, one name stands alone as the best player in the draft.
Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is that name and he will already enter the NFL with the skill set of a perennial pro bowler.
Use of Hands
Williams enters the NFL with a full toolbox of moves to help him get to the quarterback. He uses his hands incredibly well and doesn’t rely solely on his athletic gifts to make a play. He is very polished as a prospect.
In this play against LSU, Williams is able to get past the double team and sack the quarterback. He swipes away the first lineman and positions himself to where both linemen are unable to block him head on. Williams had to battle double teams all year and was still able to pull off plays like this one. There are very few players, NFL or college, capable of pulling off what Williams did here. NFL offenses are not going to be able to double him every play of every week which bodes well for Williams.
Williams had 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks in this game.
This play in the 62-7 blowout win against Ole Miss showcases Williams’ ability to defend the run. Williams uses his left hand to push the guard back to establish the first blow. Shorty after, Williams then uses his opposite hand to swipe away the block which prohibits the guard from getting his hands on William’s chest. Once Williams gets past his block, he is able to tackle the running back in the backfield for a loss.
Williams creates havoc rushing the quarterback in addition to stopping the run.
Unique Combination of Strength and Speed
Now that the technical aspects of his game has been firmly established, now it’s time to see how William’s athleticism comes into play. After scouting a few of his games, this was one of my favorite plays on tape. Even though Williams doesn’t make the play, he somehow gets through three blockers and dives at Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham. The best part was he threw down an SEC lineman like he was nothing. If this play was half a second longer, Williams likely would have gotten there to sack Stidham. Still, he does enough to make Stidham throw a pass earlier than he would have liked and the play ends up being an incompletion.
In the same game that was mentioned earlier in the post against LSU, Williams’ 4.84 speed was put on display. It’s rare seeing an interior lineman make a play at the sideline, but Williams isn’t your typical interior lineman. The hustle and the speed to make this play is a core aspect of Williams’ game. When evaluating him, I never once questioned his effort or saw him take a play off.
Player Comparison: Gerald McCoy
A popular comparison for Williams is Rams DT Aaron Donald. I can certainly see the similarities the two players share, but that is high praise even for a prospect like Williams. That doesn’t mean Williams won’t ever reach Donald’s level; I just think it’s a lot to put on one player.
Now with that being said, it’s not like Gerald McCoy is that much of a drop off. I think this is a more reasonable and realistic comparison for Williams. Like McCoy, Williams doesn’t rely solely on his athletic gifts and is able to use a variety of different moves to get off a block to make a play. Throughout his entire career, McCoy has been a consistent producer and that’s the type of career that I believe Williams will have once he’s drafted.
Team Fit: Oakland Raiders (4th Overall)
I really considered the Cardinals at the top of the draft, but I have always been a believer in making sure the quarterback position is figured out and Arizona has an incredible opportunity to select Kyler Murray to spark that franchise.
The Raiders are the pick because they ranked dead last in sacks last season. Although Williams isn’t going to be the edge presence that will replace Khalil Mack, I firmly believe selecting a player like Williams could do wonders for that defense. Adding the best defensive player in a draft class that’s loaded in defensive talent is the best thing the Raiders could do during their mass rebuild. Oakland have two other first round picks to address holes elsewhere so picking the best player available should be their strategy.