The cream of the crop for the 2015 NFL Draft. USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams is rated among the top players in the entire draft class and deservedly so; he has very few flaws in his game. Let’s take a look at the results of his athletic testing — made possible by Mockdraftable.com.
Considering Leonard Williams won’t be 21 until late June, it has to be noted how impressive he is physically. Williams is extremely strong at the point of attack — which helps make up for his slow burst off the line of scrimmage. At the college level, offensive lineman have no chance to move him off the line scrimmage.
Despite his tendency to be slow off the ball, Williams is an explosive athlete. His upper body strength is remarkable as he sheds blocks with ease in the run and pass game. Williams has long arms that allow him to gain separation from the offensive line and his height allows him to see into the backfield as he battles with the offensive line.
Williams’ technique is easily the best out of the interior defensive linemen in this class. He is adept at using his hands on initial contact. Once establishing contact with the offensive lineman, he has a variety of moves at his disposal. Rip moves, swim moves, “pull throughs”, etc. — Williams is incredible in this facet of the game. Technically, he’s one of the most advanced 20 year olds entering the draft in recent memory.
Williams is also an advanced pass rusher — he always comes with a plan. If Williams first move is stopped, he usually has a second move in mind, especially on single blocks. Williams can hit offensive linemen with a speed to power, bull to rip, bull to swim, and many more moves. Again, watching Williams work as a technician is incredible. He is an extremely skilled defensive linemen.
Against double teams Williams displays great awareness and understands what the offensive line is trying to do to him. He feels the second blocker coming on and utilizes proper technique to beat double teams: engage the first blocker with your hands, hips and butt thrust into the second oncoming blocker, disengage the first blocker with a rip or swim move to create a seam for yourself to get through.
Leonard Williams can also line up on the edge. He has flashed some ability to generate an edge rush which bodes well ability to play 5-technique at the line of scrimmage. Despite his height (6’5″) he usually plays with his pads low and overpowers offensive linemen with his lower body strength.
To go along with Williams’ skill set, he is an extremely versatile defensive lineman. He has the ability to play 3-technique in a 4-3 scheme, 5-technique in a 3-4 scheme, and can line up all across the defensive line.
Another positive in Williams favor is his age. He won’t turn 21 until the end of June which means he has a long time to grow and get stronger in an NFL strength and conditioning program.
As good as Leonard Williams is, he has his flaws.
He is late off the ball more often than not, which hurt him in the NFL. He’s a good enough athlete and technician that he’ll still win his fair share of reps, but if he improved his snap anticipation he could become one of the great defensive linemen in the NFL.
Williams, at times, comes out of his stance too high. This problem and the snap anticipation problem can be fixed with good coaching at the next level.
I also have questions about William’s ceiling. His floor is high enough that he’ll come in and be one of the top 25 defensive tackles in the league from the jump. However, his technique is so good that it’s hard to see him getting exponentially better in that area of his game. At the same time, Williams is just 20 years old so he has a lot of time to get stronger and grow throughout his career.
Floor: Jared Odrick, Jaguars
Ceiling: Richard Seymour, Retired
IDEAL SCHEME FITS
The Titans could be looking for a potential running mate for Jurrell Casey and Leonard Williams would give them an imposing front seven to go along with Casey, Derrick Morgan, and Brian Orakpo.
If the Raiders decide to go Best Player Available, Williams will probably be their pick at the 4th overall selection. Williams is from the Southern California area and pairing him with Khalil Mack gives the Raiders two young defensive stalwarts to build their defense around.
John Fox and Vic Fangio are looking for players to fit in the new 3-4 scheme that Fangio is bringing over from San Francisco. Putting Williams on the same defense as Pernell McPhee and Kyle Fuller gives the Bears three young, talented defensive players they can build around.
With the signing of Jared Odrick, the Jaguars will probably be looking elsewhere on draft day as they are very similar players. The Redskins dumped a lot of money into their defensive line with Stephen Paea and Terrance Knighton so they will probably choose to fill another need. The Jets are set with All-Pro talents Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson eliminating Williams from their plans. This leaves Tennessee, Oakland, and Chicago.
Williams will go in the top seven picks. His ceiling is Tennessee at 2nd pick and his floor is Chicago at the 7th pick.