2019 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Quinnen Williams
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: In the Nick Saban era, Alabama has produced a steady string of excellent pro prospects and freak athletes who have been high first-round picks. That trend has been especially strong on the interior of the defensive line with players like Marcell Dareus, Jonathan Allen and Da'Ron Payne. This year, Williams is the candidate to keep the streak going. Entering the 2018 season, Raekwon Davis was the Alabama defensive lineman garnering all the hype and Isaiah Buggs was considered another nice player next to him, but Williams broke out in 2018 to overtake both of them
WalterFootball.com was the first in the media to report and project that Williams could be a high first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Sources from multiple teams, including two general managers, were raving about Williams to me before the other media caught on to him. After his impressive start to the season, Williams was even better in conference play. He was superb in games against Missouri, Mississippi State and Auburn before utterly dominating LSU. Williams used devastating speed, power and technique to beat the interior of LSU's line at will. He beat double teams from the guard and center for sacks, plus stuffed runs at the point of attack. For the day, Williams totaled 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for a loss and 10 tackles. His outing against LSU was one of the most impressive performances I have seen by a defensive lineman in years. It was probably the best since Myles Garrett (2015) or Jadeveon Clowney (2012) during their amazing sophomore seasons. In 2018, Williams totaled 71 tackles with 19.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and one pass batted. He caused even more disruption than the numbers indicate, including routinely wrecking offensive game plans.
For the NFL, Williams is a rare prospect with his interior pass-rush ability. He could be one of those rare NFL defensive tackles who is capable of generating multiple seasons of double-digit sacks. Williams is extremely fast off the snap, possessing the ability to fire his gap and close on the quarterback in a hurry. Williams can use pure speed to fly by blockers and win with a speed rush. He also has functional strength to bull rush through blockers, or grab them and toss them aside. On top of his great skill set, Williams shows impressive technique with his hand placement and has a variety of pass-rushing moves with speed rushes, bull rushes, swim moves, and more. He also has a devastating rip move that he uses to get leverage on blockers and knock them off balance. Quickly, Williams gets blockers off balance or sheds the block completely to charge past them down the pocket to get to the quarterback. Williams has a powerful bull rush as well, and there have been plays on which he puts his blockers on roller-skates, pushing them straight back into the quarterback.
With his sawed-off body, Williams has natural pad level and leverage that make him very difficult to block in combination with his size and speed. In the second half of the season, Williams showed the ability to beat double teams and still get pressure on the quarterback. His interior pass-rushing skills are off the charts, and in conjunction with his run defense, he often takes games over and wrecks the offensive game plan. There also is a mental edge that Williams provides his defense with via his dominance at the point of attack, which forces offenses to focus on him, freeing up other defenders are set up to make some big plays. Williams is a very unique and rare prospect for the NFL in that regard.
In the ground game, Williams is a quality defender. He holds his ground well with a good lateral anchor that also shows he can absorb double teams. Williams is able to hold his gap and not get pushed back in runs coming straight at him. With his strength and quickness, Williams also tosses blockers aside to cause tackles for a loss. Williams is a well-balanced player who has the ability to defend the run and rush the passer.
Multiple team scouts have given a thumbs up to me on Williams off the field. They said there were no known off-the-field problems with him. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Williams put his great skill set on display with a workout that was similar to Aaron Donald's in 2014. Williams was slightly slower than Donald, but Williams is 20 pounds heavier, so Williams is just as much of a freaky athlete.
In speaking with NFL sources during the fall, Williams graded out higher than defensive tackles like Houston's Ed Oliver, Auburn's Derrick Brown, Mississippi State's Jeff Simmons and either member of the Clemson duo of Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence. No one from that groups has tape as impressive as what Williams did in 2018.
For the NFL, Williams looks like he could be a franchise defensive player. He has the potential to be one of the best interior pass-rushers in the league. The scary thing with Williams is he is just scratching the surface of his ability. He dominated in 2018, his first year of significant playing time. He could be better once he has more experience and gets more reps to refine his play. The idea of Williams being even better than what he showed in 2018 is mind blowing, and if that happens, he could end up being a legendary player.
Player Comparison: Gerald McCoy. As a rule, I try hard to avoid comparing players to Hall of Famers and legendary players. Thus, I'm going to restrain myself to a degree here, but I think Williams could end up being a better version of Gerald McCoy in the NFL. McCoy has had a good career with Tampa Bay, although it has been held back some by injuries and the Bucs rarely ever having good defensive line talent around McCoy. McCoy is a tough run defender, a dangerous interior pass-rusher, and a freak athlete. Williams is also those things while having a similar athletic skill set. In the 2010 NFL Draft, McCoy was the third-overall pick, and Williams should go in the top three of the 2019 NFL Draft.
NFL Matches: Arizona, San Francisco, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay
Arizona general manager Steve Keim made a bad pick with Robert Nkemdiche a few years ago, and the Cardinals are in need of a replacement for Calais Campbell. Williams could fit that, but it sounds like Arizona is more likely to take a quarterback or trade down.
The 49ers need more pass rush because Solomon Thomas is trending toward bust status as a pass-rusher. Williams could give them a dynamite interior with DeForest Buckner. San Francisco is also high on Williams.
Oakland would be a great scheme fit for Williams, and he could form a superb trio with P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst. In Paul Guenther's defense, Williams could be a three-technique trend-setter like Geno Atkins was for Guenther when he was the Bengals' defensive coordinator.
Tampa Bay could be moving on from Gerald McCoy this offseason, and Williams would give the team a fast interior defender to pair with nose tackle Vita Vea. Williams would be a massive steal for the Bucs if he fell to the fifth pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.
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