Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
With the luxury of picking third in a draft with a number of potential impact defenders, the Jets are certain to have a top prospect fall to them. Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is one such prospect.
Williams had a breakout year in 2018, as he racked up eight sacks and was second in the SEC with 20 tackles for a loss. He's regarded as one of the most disruptive defensive tackle prospects in years. However, the Jets already have Leonard Williams and just re-signed Henry Anderson, so they don't necessarily have an immediate need at the position.
Some regard Williams to be the best defensive player in the draft, so the Jets could be forgoing a potentially elite player if they instead opt to select a lesser prospect at a position of need. Could he therefore be the guy they take in lieu of trading down?
Projected Pick: Top 3
College (career): 91 tackles, 10 sacks in two years
Combine: 112" broad jump, 4.83 in the 40-yard dash
Williams was equally effective in the run game and as a pass rusher with the Crimson Tide, using his quickness to shoot gaps and his power to drive his man into the backfield and leverage his way off blocks.
Williams uses his hands well and moves well laterally. He is also impressive with how quick he is to diagnose plays and can blow them up by being explosive to the ball. He's also proven to be a secure tackler, capable of stopping runners in their tracks without missing many tackles.
The "300-pound bar of soap" was a term first coined by Williams' Alabama teammate, offensive tackle Jonah Williams (no relation). That explains perfectly how unblockable he is with his quickness, technique, power and explosiveness. That constant disruptiveness can also benefit his linemates up-front, as he'll draw double-team attention on the inside.
One concern over Williams is that he didn't play all that much in college. He only played one other season with Alabama in which he played less than 200 snaps in a rotational role. However, he was still effective within that role and it is not uncommon for talented underclassmen on Alabama's front seven to have to spend a lot of time on the bench because they're a team that is stacked with pro-level talent.
Another concern is that Williams lacks prototypical size and length for a defensive tackle role at the pro level. However, he tested well at 303 pounds at the combine and fits in with the new breed of defensive linemen archetypes such as Atlanta's Grady Jarrett, who has shown that if you can win with your hands and by creating leverage advantages, you can be just as disruptive as the prototypical bigger lineman with long arms.
One concern that affects the Jets specifically is that Williams doesn't necessarily fill a positional need for them. Williams hasn't played many reps as a nose tackle and is likely too small for that position at the NFL level, other than in certain sub-packages. In base defenses, Williams would fit better as a 4-3 tackle or a 3-4 end, but the Jets already have candidates to start in both spots.
If the Jets believe Williams is a blue-chip prospect who has a good chance to be elite, then he should be the guy they take with the third pick assuming he's available - unless there's anyone else available that also meets this description. While the need is greater at other positions, the Jets would probably prioritize the player's long-term potential over short-term positional need. That also seemed to be their approach to free agency, too.
Selecting Williams would have ramifications though. First of all, it would leave them with a hole in terms of the edge defender positions. Also, it would create a surplus on the interior which could lead to the Jets ultimately deciding to move on from Leonard Williams and might mean that the two defensive linemen drafted last season don't get much of a chance to develop.
Fortunately, new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is a creative defensive mind, who can mix up his personnel packages to try to maximize his production from his interior linemen. This is a challenge though, and it's one Todd Bowles struggled to come up with an ideal solution for when he was in a similar situation in 2015, so the Jets had better have a good plan for how to use Williams if he's the player they decide to draft.