ESPN’s Todd McShay has released his second mock draft of the season, and with it gives the Cowboys a player that is definitely high-risk, high-reward.
28. Dallas Cowboys, 13-3
Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
Williams' 2015 tape was better than his 2016 tape. He also added a misdemeanor gun charge to his record. The Cowboys have shown they're not afraid to take chances on talented prospects with character baggage. And make no mistake: Williams is talented, with 19.5 sacks the past two seasons. He shows excellent first-step quickness and explosive power.
Williams is listed as an outside linebacker, but he really is a pass-rush specialist. A one-trick pony at this stage of his career.
On the one hand, he may be exactly what the Cowboys need. An explosive pass rusher with all the physical traits. On the other hand, he may be exactly what they don’t need, a player with off-the-field issues who could end up being a wasted pick.
The Cowboys need help rushing the passer, it’s probably the most stated fact about the team this offseason. In this draft, the usual suspects like Taco Charlton, Takkarist McKinley and Derek Barnett are off the board. So McShay goes with Williams, but for many fans, this smells a little to close to Randy Gregory 2.0.
So let’s hit the off-the-field issues. Williams was arrested in September of 2016 for carrying a pistol without a permit and for a bag of marijuana. It’s also been rumored that Williams failed multiple drug tests while playing for Alabama. In fact, he’s been compared closely to Randy Gregory.
Those rumors can’t be verified, but they are following him around.
The other issue around Williams, and it is on the field, is that he never really broke into the starting lineup at Alabama and that he’s not really a full player. He doesn’t play the run well, he’s not a master of technique, he basically is just a super quick player with great athleticism who can get after the passer but plays a limited number of snaps.
Will that translate to the NFL, can he learn the skills he needs to become a well-rounded player? Can he stay out of trouble and on the field? Sounds like a lot of issues. But then there’s the other side.
What I liked: Williams has all of the tools to be a top-tier pass rusher. He is extremely explosive. His first-step quickness is outstanding and he has very violent hands. He lacks polish and technique but he wins a lot of one-on-one battles because of his pure athleticism and raw power. His favorite move is a stutter/bull rush but he also has a nifty spin move that he uses late in the down after his first charge has been stopped. He is very effective when he's used as a looper, working together with the defensive tackle to get after the QB. His snaps are limited and that allows him to play with maximum effort every play.
Rockets out of stance like a track sprinter, but with shoulder pads on. True edge bending ability as a rusher. Pass-rush approach is more sophisticated than he is given credit for. Can win outside or inside making every rush a potential two-way go. Shows good feel for the pass-rush arc and understands when to attack the corner. Able to dip shoulder and pivot under and around an offensive tackle and into the quarterback.
STRENGTHS: In terms of pure explosiveness off the edge, Williams has few (if any) peers in college football. Giving up over 50 pounds to virtually every offensive linemen he faces, Williams is reliant on his initial burst off the ball. Fortunately (at least for him and the Tide), Williams excels here, showing the quick twitch and snap anticipation to easily cross the face of would-be blockers. Williams isn't just quick, he's flexible, dipping under the reach of tackles to turn the corner and closing quickly. Williams is also surprisingly powerful, generating good push on simple bull rushes because he keeps his pad level down and has excellent leg drive, as evidenced by his 555 pound squat. Williams has developed into a professional pass rusher, incorporating active, powerful hands and a deadly spin move back inside to complement his speed rush.
Without the baggage, we might not even be talking about him being available in the late first round. But the Cowboys have been burned recently, will they go back and touch the hot stove again?
Would you take Tim Williams with the 28th pick?