The Alabama Crimson Tide have been producing top notch defensive tackles in the NFL Draft in recent years and Jesse Williams looks to be the next. Originally from Australia, Williams has great athleticism for an athlete his size. At his pro day, he ran the 40 time between 4.93-4.95 seconds and put up 225 lbs. on the bench 30 times. His most impressive drill might have been posting a 7.69 second three-cone time, showing scouts why he has earned the nickname “Monstar” from teammates and peers. With Williams’ big frame and surprising athleticism, he is an ideal lineman for today’s NFL. He will be able to get after the quarterback in a 4-3 defense because of his speed and be able to take on defenders to clear linebackers in a 3-4 defense.
Jesse Williams: The Vitals
Weight: 323 pounds
Position: DL (Defensive Lineman)
Williams came to Alabama via Arizona Western College, where he dominated the defensive front in 2009 and 2010. As a freshman in 2009, Williams registered 46 tackles in 11 games, including seven tackles for loss and four sacks. He continued his dominance as a sophomore in 2010, racking up 30 tackles in just seven games with six tackles for loss and two sacks. This earned him the number two player in the Rivals.com 2011 JUCO Top 50 and was ranked number 10 in the SuperPrep JUCO 100. He then chose the Crimson Tide over other powerhouse schools such as: LSU, Oklahoma State, Southern California, Arkansas, Oregon State, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
As a junior in 2011, Williams didn’t waste any time and earned the starting job at defensive end while moving to an inside tackle on a four man defensive front. That year, Alabama led the nation against the run (72.2 ypg) and Williams was a big reason in stopping the run and pushing the quarterback out of the pocket. He started all 13 games and registered 24 tackles with 4.0 tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries, one pass deflection, and half of a sack. Williams transitioned to nose guard in Alabama’s 3-4 defensive scheme in 2012. Again, the Crimson Tide led the nation in rush defense allowing 79.8 ypg. Coach Nick Saban recognized the power and athleticism that Williams possessed and gave Williams extensive action as a fullback on goal-line sets. Williams started 12 games and missed one due to injury, earning a second team ALL-SEC selection. He had 36 tackles with 2.5 for loss, one sack, two pass deflections, four quarterback hurries, and a blocked field goal. Williams was a prized piece in their 3-4 set by drawing double teams and freeing up linebackers to make tackles in the backfield.
Williams has played in the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses at Alabama and his versatility to play both of these defensive fronts is a positive for a lot of scouts and NFL teams. He will demand double teams in the 3-4 because of his size and be able to rush the passer in a 4-3 because of his speed. Also, Williams plays with excellent pad level, despite his height. The 6’4,’’ 320 pounder always seems to hit lower than his opponent, making him tough to drive off the ball. This allows him to demand double teams and eat up blockers to free up linebackers. Williams is also active with his hands and could cause problems for quarterbacks.
Williams didn’t start playing football until he was 15 years old and because of this, he is constantly learning the game. He will need more work on understanding playbooks and making sure he is not taking himself out of plays by pursuing a wrong gap. Williams has a massive upper body, but he needs work on developing some lower body strength to make sure he is conditioned appropriately for end of games.
Potential Landing Spots:
One of the potential landing spots for Jesse Williams is the San Francisco 49ers with the 31st overall pick in the first round. The 49ers are one of the best defensive teams in the NFL, but they might be lacking a bit in depth. Both Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois have departed from the team on the defensive front. Williams’ versatility and athleticism will allow him to work in at nose tackle with Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey, but also getting time at defensive end when the 49ers go to their base 3-4. He could also see time as a defensive tackle when the 49ers go to their nickel package. Williams could potentially contribute in many ways as a rookie if the 49ers select him.
Another potential landing spot for Williams could be the Denver Broncos with the 28th overall pick in the first round. There is no question that the Broncos need to address the defensive tackle position, but will they do it through free agency or the draft? There is an old saying of “Defense Wins Championships” and even though the Broncos have the weapons on the offensive side of the ball, they still need to address the defensive line.
His athleticism and versatility on the defensive line make him intriguing to any team looking for upgrades on the defensive front.
Williams is projected to be a late 1st round pick or early 2nd round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and is ranked 6th at his position.
There is no doubt that Jesse Williams can be another Vince Wilfork if he pans out to be the player many scouts think he can be. Like the Patriots run-stuffing guard, Williams will not reach the quarterback very much, but he will take on double teams freeing up his linebackers to be active and hopefully make tackles in the backfield.