2015 NFL Draft: New York Jets Player Profile: Leonard Williams


Oct 11, 2014; Tucson, AZ, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive end

Leonard Williams

(94) against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. The Trojans defeated the Wildcats 28-26. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Good morning New York Jets fans. It was an exciting night, as we opened up the NFL draft. After all of the talk about the Jets possibly moving up to take Marcus Mariota, or trading down to add additional picks, they stayed at number six. Leonard Williams was never supposed to be available at that position, surprising everyone, including general manager Mike Maccagnan.

Leonard Williams was ranked by many as the best overall defensive player in the 2015 draft class. Mock drafts were calling Williams the second or third pick. When he fell to the Jets, Williams became a great value pick to the team, so Maccagnan did, as he said he would, select the best player available.

Since Williams wasn’t expected to be available, we didn’t talk much about Williams heading up to the NFL draft, so let’s do it now. Let’s breakdown the college career of our newest Jet, Leonard Williams.

Next: College Career

Aug 29, 2013; Honolulu, HI, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive end Leonard Williams (94) celebrates after a sack in the second quarter against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Here are Leonard Williams’ stats while at USC:

Defense & Fumbles

Williams was a prolific tackler, able to stop both the run and play against the pass.  He improved in his number of tackles each season, and posted an average of seven sacks per season.  Leonard Williams is a talented, all-around football player.

Next: NFL Combine

Feb 22, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive lineman Leonard Williams goes through a workout drill during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

At the combine, Leonard Williams measured at 6’4″, 302 pounds. He ran the forty yard dash in 4.97 seconds, and the three cone drill in 7.59 seconds. He posted a 29.5″ vertical jump, and an a broad jump that measured at 8’10”. Here is the scouting report from Dane Brugler’s draft guide:

STRENGTHS: Well-built frame with broad shoulders, long arms and growth potential…above average flexibility and fluidity in his joints, hips and lower body to turn the edge and flatten like an edge rusher 50 pounds lighter…quick first step to attack gaps before blockers can react…rolls his hips at contact, punching in an upward motion to lift and toss blockers, converting speed to power…strings moves together, using grown man power, natural leverage and body control to maneuver through blocks and finish in the backfield – uses his upper and lower halves simultaneously and effectively…aggressive and active hands to swim and swat, using arm over/under technique…terrific range for the position with pursuit skills and closing burst to chase down ballcarriers from behind…excellent backfield vision and field awareness, recognizing offensive tendencies and knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage (nine career passes defended and two interceptions)…highly intelligent and anticipates well to put himself in position to make plays…scheme versatile with experience playing inside and outside…toughs out injuries and still effective when not at full health…finished second on the team in tackles the last two seasons with consistent production…level-headed and coachable with mature work ethic to take advantage of his natural gifts.

WEAKNESSES: Allows blockers to attack his breast plate and needs to keep his pad level low off the snap…inconsistent snap anticipation, late moving off the ball too often…average initial punch and needs to improve his timing…raw pass rush mechanics and needs to refine his rush moves – too predictable on tape…lacks ideal base strength in the run game and can be driven on his heels, struggling to sink-and-anchor…will abandon the edge and doesn’t consistently reset the line of scrimmage…minor durability concerns, missing one game as a sophomore with a right shoulder injury (Nov. 2013) that required postseason surgery to repair his torn labrum and kept him from lifting during the pre-draft process – played through a high left ankle sprain and sore left shoulder most of 2014.

As always, film and final thoughts on the next page.

Next: Film and Final Thoughts

Leonard Williams already looks like he already plays for the New York Jets on the defensive line. With how stout he is against the run? Williams will fit in well among the “Sons of Anarchy”. He can take on one, and even two guys, and find his way to the ball carrier. That will serve him will in his NFL career. The same can be said for the way Leonard Williams can apply pressure up the middle. We know how that affects quarterbacks, namely Tom Brady.

Williams does need to improve his instincts at the snap. He does get off of the ball slowly, at times. He can get away with that in college, but he cannot in the NFL. That must get better. He also gets too upright at times. If you look at the tape, you see linemen getting on his chest with their arms, and effectively keeping Leonard Williams out of the play.

He must learn to get low, and use that opportunity to get better leverage on his opponent. He does it effectively, but not on every play.

Despite immense talent, I do give the pick a B, simply because there were other players available that would fill a need better. But, Leonard Williams can ball, and he will be a great asset to the New York Jets, immediately.

Next: The Ramifications of Leonard Williams

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