Editor's note: This was a great writeup, and we're happy to promote it to the front page.
Good afternoon folks, I got really bored and decided to come up with some draft profiles on players the Packers would be interested in since I watch a lot of tape on guys in my free time. Today, I started with Alabama End/Nose Tackle Jesse Williams.
The first thing I watch for when looking at defensive lineman is their get off. That includes how quickly they react to the ball being snapped and once they do react, how much rate of force (explosiveness) they generate. When watching Williams, I saw him flash a good first step but it was extremely inconsistent. Sometimes Williams was the first person off the ball, sometimes he was the last. Once he got off the ball I saw average burst and power. That being said, Williams also had extremely violent and powerful initial punch, likely owing to his extreme upper body strength which partially compensated for the lack of explosiveness.
Against the run, when single linemen were assigned to Williams, I saw good but inconsistent push, often correlated to how much of a get off Williams got. Williams also showed accurate hand placement that allowed him to quickly disengage from linemen. Unfortunately, Williams struggles to tackle the ball-carrier once disengaged, showing problems accelerating and closing laterally and often awkwardly lunging high at the runner. Williams also did not seem to have the ability to quickly penetrate and make big negative plays in the back field, likely owing to his average explosiveness.
Against double teams, Williams was inconsistent, ranging from poor to very good, averaging out around decent. Williams seems to understand how and when to lower his center of gravity in response to a double team. When Williams fired off the ball quickly and dropped his weight, he would stop the opposing linemen at or behind the line of scrimmage, allowing clear lanes to the runner for his linebackers to make negative plays. Usually, when Williams did not fire off particularly fast, he would drop his center of gravity one to two yards off the line, providing small run lanes to the opposing ball-carrier. This was an average result for Williams. Occasionally, Williams would attempt to fight the double team heads up, with predictable results.
Against the pass, Williams showed an occasional swim move against single lineman which while used rarely seemed to be a fluid move that he can develop. Usually however, Williams would bull rush single linemen, collapsing the pocket. He seemed to be very well suited to this, though he rarely disengaged with his linemen or finished with a sack or QB hit. When Williams realized he would not get to the passer, he showed good awareness and got his hands in the air to disrupt the pass. I saw no discernible counter move in Williams' repertoire. When facing two linemen, Williams did not show a capacity to consistently split the double team to provide pressure, often he would simply hand fight with the opposing linemen, providing little pressure. Williams did get his hands up to deflect the pass in such scenarios but was often too far from the QB to make any difference.
Overall, I see Williams as sort of a super C.J. Wilson. Though he may struggle initially in the NFL while he learns to fire off quickly on a consistent basis, lower his center of gravity faster and tackle with better technique, I see Williams developing into a good 3-4 lineman capable of occupying multiple blockers against the run and making guys like Desmond Bishop look good. However, I don't think he'll ever be a big play guy who can blow up a runner in the backfield. I also believe he'll be a marginal pass rusher who will be good enough at collapsing the pocket that lesser offensive lineman will need help against him, though he certainly isn't a Cullen Jenkins replacement who can generate a large amount of pressures, QB hits and sacks.
I believe Williams is a mid to late second round talent. I think he'll develop into a solid 3-4 lineman who can play any position on the line but I don't see the explosive play making ability that I would expect from a first round pick. Any 3-4 teams picking at or later than 45 should be very happy selecting Williams. I would personally be ok with the Packers trading up or down for Williams in the second round, though I certainly don’t see him as worthy of selection at 26.