Over the next few months, we’ll be looking at prospects in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft from a decidedly Cowboys point of view. Taking the Cowboys current personnel, draft position, scheme, and needs into consideration; defensive line, linebacker, defensive backs, as well as complementary offensive pieces at wide receiver, tight end, and perhaps right tackle, we hope to profile the majority of the potential prospects that could realistically end up as Cowboys within the first two rounds. Once the “official visits” start to leak we’ll add prospects that are possibilities in the later rounds.
#56 - Tim Williams - Defensive End - Alabama - 6-4, 252
Games Watched: Texas A&M, Tennessee, USC, Washington, LSU, Clemson
Pros: Explosive first step, maybe one of the best in the draft. Flashes natural bend around the edge, fluid athlete who can get low and dip his shoulder. Shows good power relative to his size at the point of attack, uses his “inside arm” well. Flashes an array of pass rush moves including a rip, swim, spin, bull rush, and quick inside counter move. Advanced hand usage in his pass-rush. Better against the run in limited snaps than his size would suggest, but overall it’s difficult to project his ability against the run because he was primarily a pass-rush specialist. Quick-twitch athlete. Played standing up and with his hand down.
Cons: Inconsistent effort and he disappears for long stretches. He seems too willing to stay blocked at times when his initial move is stopped. Did not show up for the 2016 BCS Title game at all even though he was primarily matched up against a poor Clemson right tackle. Loses balance far too often in his pass rush, leading to a loss of speed and momentum. Doesn’t consistently flatten around the edge, is pushed beyond the quarterback far too often. Had a massive talent advantage at Alabama and was primarily only asked to be a part-time, pass-rush specialist, so he was usually on the field in advantageous down and distances. Narrow frame and lower body, can he add weight without losing speed? I tend to think his listed weight of 252 is over-exaggerated, perhaps even his height, we’ll see how he measures at the Combine. Lacks ideal length. Significant off-field concerns with rumors of multiple failed drug tests, also arrested in September 2016 on gun and marijuana charges.
Conclusion: If Williams were completely clean off the field he’d be a strong candidate with the 28th pick, but I do not think he is as much of a slam dunk as some would have you believe. There are clear on-field concerns; most notably that he was a pass-rush specialist/part-time only player in college, that he disappeared for long stretches, that it’s difficult to project his ability in the run game, and that there is a very strong possibility that he is well below his listed weight, not to mention with a frame that looks like it may not be able to hold much more weight efficiently.
His pure pass-rush ability, explosiveness off the edge, and athleticism is obvious, and that’s why if he was clean off the field he’d be a very strong consideration at 28, despite the fact that I think he is better suited as a 3-4 OLB and may not ever have the bulk to play full-time as a 4-3 DE. But when you consider the off-field concerns I think it’s clear that you can’t consider this player in the first, especially for the Cowboys, a team that has seen two recent second-round investments miss extensive amount of time due to drug-related suspensions.
The only real question for me is what do you do if he is there at 60?
If it were up to me I’d likely still pass, but at least that is much more of a conversation than taking him in the first.
I do not have access to coach’s film or anything of that nature, I just watch plenty of football (television broadcast version) and go off what I see out of a prospect. I started this odd fascination of mine in 2011 when I sent my breakdown and links to videos of Tyron Smith at USC to the excellent Cowboys blogger Bob Sturm (April 28, 2011 - Even More Tyron Smith Tape). Since then I’ve continued watching prospects closely, but I’ve never taken the initiative to actually formally write my thoughts until I became a writer for BTB. I hope that I can provide an interesting, and accurate perspective on prospects from a Cowboys-centric point of view.
Special thanks to DraftBreakdown for posting the videos that help provide a more in-depth look at this year’s prospects.