NY Jets Optimistic Roster Breakdown: DL Quinnen Williams

NY Jets (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

NY Jets’ defensive lineman Quinnen Williams will face a critical season in 2020.

When the NY Jets selected defensive lineman Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, many were expecting the former Alabama star to be an instant-impact difference-maker on defense.

But while his rookie season wasn’t especially awful, it’s safe to say he didn’t live up to the hype.

Williams finished the 2019 season with just 2.5 sacks and 28 tackles in 13 games, nine of which he registered an official start. Combine that with just six QB hits and four tackles for loss and you have a disappointingly quiet season.

It’s not as if Williams played awful, though. His 67.4 Pro Football Focus grade ranked him as the 55th-best interior defensive lineman in the NFL and his 72.9 run-defense grade was 33rd among all qualified players at the position.

Again, he was a starting-caliber player. He just didn’t have the impact expected from someone taken with the third overall pick.

It’s important to remember that Williams is just 22-years-old and full of untapped potential. While his 2019 season may have been underwhelming, that doesn’t mean that his future isn’t still bright.

However, he’ll need to put together a much more impactful 2020 season if he’s going to start living up to the lofty expectations of being the third overall pick.

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Let’s take a look at what Williams could do to find success in 2020.

How Quinnen Williams can find success with the NY Jets in 2020

Part of Williams’ 2019 disappointment came down to his rawness and overall lack of polish, but a lot of it had to do with his usage as well.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams tended to use Williams as more of a space-eater often having him take on more than one blocker at a time. He saw the majority of his usage come out of the 1-technique with occasional deployment as a true nose tackle.

This led to increased production for his teammates, but an absence of stat-sheet stuffing for Williams. Going into 2020, the Jets will hopefully use Williams more as a penetrator than a block-eater.

But ultimately, many of Williams’ shortcomings fall on his own inability to adapt to the NFL game. That’s to be expected with many rookies and it’s important to remember that even Jamal Adams looked somewhat overwhelmed in his rookie season.

It wasn’t until year two that Adams truly emerged as the All-Pro player he is today. Perhaps Williams could take a similar second-year leap in 2020.

But if he’s going to do so, he’ll need to refine his game some more.

Williams was particularly strong against the run in 2019 recording an 8.9 percent run-stop rate which ranked in the 83rd percentile, per Jets X-Factor’s Michael Nania.

He was able to excel as a run-stopper due to his impressive raw power and high motor when pursuing ball-carriers on the backside. Williams would frequently cause a disruption in the interior with his pure strength forcing blockers into the backfield.

However, for as many times as saw Williams overpower opposing offensive linemen, we saw perhaps even more of him overwhelmed at the point of attack.

Especially as a pass-rusher, Williams was often outmatched by more experienced linemen. He lacked any sort of a pass-rush plan the majority of the time and his counters and overall finesse rushing remained a major weakness.

Williams did find some success as a power-rusher recording an impressive 28.1 percent win-rate when using a power move, per Nania, but he was a little too one-dimensional as a pass-rusher.

Going into 2020, Williams must continue to show progress as a finesse-rusher while also maintaining his above-average bull-rush move.

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He doesn’t need to go all Dwight Freeney and start dropping spin moves on opposing linemen, but he does need to be smarter with his counters and more agile when it comes to shedding blocks.

Moreover, Williams was particularly slow off the snap in his rookie year failing to show the same explosiveness he showed while at Alabama. Overall, he was tentative when it came to his first step or even when it came to finishing tackles/would-be sacks.

That comes with the territory of being a rookie and it isn’t until the second or third year that the game really starts to slow down for most players.

Ultimately, Williams was underwhelming in his rookie campaign, but a lot of his struggles are commonplace for young players first entering the NFL.

The talent he showed at Alabama hasn’t disappeared and there are reasons to be excited about his 2019 tape. But Williams is going to need to make considerable strides as a pass-rusher if he’s going to live up to his imposing expectations.

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It’s certainly possible and his development will be one of the key storylines to monitor going into 2020.