My last defensive tackle scouting report features the most controversial prospect at the position. Alabama's Jesse Williams is one of the most talked about prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft. He has his question marks, but he sure is a physically gifted player.
Before I get into the scouting report, here is a quick background check. Williams is relatively new to the sport of football. Growing up in Australia, Williams didn't discover football until the age of 14. Williams originally committed to Hawaii, but he lacked some of the educational requirements. Instead of sitting out for a year, he opted to play at a junior college. After dominating the level of competition he faced at Arizona Western, Williams chose to play college football for Nick Saban at Alabama.
Now, let''s take a closer look at the type of football player Williams is.
Positives: Physically, this is one of the most impressive physical specimens in the draft. Standing in at 6-3 and weighing 320 pounds, Williams possesses a massive frame. With a low center of gravity, Williams keeps his pad level low and generates great leverage.
Williams is one of the strongest defensive lineman I have ever seen. While bench pressing 600 pounds usually doesn't translate to football success, he does throw his strength and power around the line of scrimmage. Sometimes even the biggest offensive lineman look like they are rag dolls getting thrown around.
His burst off the line is pretty good, but it's impressive how good he is at timing the snap. You can see that Williams wants to attack and get up the field, but he's best at playing in a two-gap scheme where he can occupy multiple blockers and use his strength. When he gets low and uses his lower body to drive offensive lineman back, he can be very disruptive. Offensive coordinators have to pay a lot of attention to him and send multiple blockers at him. All of that attention opens up plays for the defensive players around Williams.
Where Williams truly dominates is against the run. For a big guy, he's very fluid and quick on his feet. Because of his absurd strength, Williams can disengage blockers and shed blocks with ease. If you want him to anchor your defensive line, then he will thrive in that role. Williams displays a mean streak that NFL scouts love.
While he may be inexperienced, Williams played in the highly-regarded SEC and was moved around the defensive line. In 2011, he actually played a lot of five-technique for Saban in three man fronts. In 2012, Saban moved him inside to nose tackle and used him to anchor the defensive line.
Negatives: When you lack experience, you lack awareness. Williams may be a monster physically, but he's still learning his position and the game of football. He lacks awareness and football intelligence so his play recognition and assignments give him trouble. More time in the film room and NFL coaching should help him improve in that area, but he will have to work on it. It wouldn't be surprising to see him confused and tricked during his rookie season.
Even though he has superior power and strength, Williams lacks great conditioning and slows down throughout the game. Some have questioned if he can become a three-down player. If he improves his lower body strength and develops more stamina, then I believe Williams could become a more rounded defensive tackle.
Williams really needs to work on his pass rushing skills. He has a good bull rush that could become even better, but he doesn't excel at or possess any other pass rushing moves. I believe that Williams has the athletic ability to grow into a better pass rusher, but right now that's not a strength of his.
Conclusion: If you are looking for a pass rushing defensive tackle that is going to rack up a lot of sacks, then Williams may not be your cup of tea. In time, Williams could become a force to be reckoned with, but there is going to be a learning curve for him. Right now in his career, he can be considered a project with high upside. Williams would be best playing in a 3-4, but he could have a lot of success as a one-technique 4-3 defensive tackle.
Williams is probably going to test really well at the NFL Combine. Physically his strength is off the charts, and he is a very good athlete. Drafting a workout warrior is always a risk. The team that drafts him will have to decide if they are willing to take the time to develop Williams into a more complete player. Some teams just won't take that risk with a first round pick because there are other players who can contribute immediately.
I would love to see the Dallas Cowboys select Williams if they still played in the 3-4 defense, but in my opinion the move to a 4-3 requires more pass rushers. Even though the Cowboys have a need at basically both defensive tackle positions, it would make much more strategical sense to draft an attacking defensive lineman with better pass rushing skills.
Now, if Williams somehow fell to the second round, then he would be a tremendous value, but it's extremely doubtful he will fall past a 3-4 team late in the first round.
Jessie Williams vs Texas A&M and LSU 2012 (via JPDraftJedi)