EDITOR'S NOTE: Promoted once again for a great profile.
Good afternoon again guys, today I’ll be taking a look at defensive tackle Brandon Williams out of Southern Missouri State at the request of Klausen. Now, the big challenge I had when reviewing film of Williams is that Southern Missouri State is a D-II school. The talent Williams played against simply wasn’t as good as it would have been against nationally recognized programs, with the size difference being particularly noticeable. Basically, I had to look at everything Williams did and try to imagine whether or not it would be effective if his opponents were about 50lbs heavier and twice as quick. It’s not a perfect science and any NFL team interested in Williams is going to have to go through the same exercise. Also, the film I found on him is very grainy and hard to watch, it took me a couple views of each play just to figure out where Williams was, and it really, really should not have been that hard to spot Williams. Anyways, here we go.
The first thing you notice about Williams is that he’s big and stout, particularly through his upper body. He also has a very low center of gravity and great balance. I saw several instances where Williams by all rights should have taken a spill but somehow maintained his footing. This will serve him well in sorting through the massive piles of humanity that commonly occur in the trenches in the NFL. Williams has decent, but not extraordinary, acceleration off the line by an NFL standard, which allows him to consistently beat his man off the line at a D-II level. Williams has the size, quickness and agility to play any position in either a 3-4 or 4-3 alignment outside of a 7-technique, which he ironically did several times in the film I watched. He is also a hustle player and will chase plays down at the opposite ends of the field, even getting to receivers who caught the ball in the flat in a few instances.
In run defense, William is a good technician who understands leverage and how to punch his opponent off balance. Against single linemen, Williams fires low and is able to drive his opponent up and back while using his hands to effectively maintain separation from the opposing lineman. William appears to be able to keep offensive lineman consistently off balance using precise punching which allows him quickly react to shed blockers and make tackles. I believe he’ll be less effective against larger linemen not prone to being punched off balance, but the skill is still undeniably present. Williams often defeated opposing linemen to make big negative plays in the backfield. Williams also showed the ability and knowledge to crash down the line when the run was away from his area and made several plays in the backfield chasing down runs. Williams is also a fundamentally sound tackler who attacks the thighs of the runner and wraps effectively.
Against double teams, Williams effectively fired out and lowered his center of gravity. Williams was effective at keeping both lineman separated from him by fighting with his hands while maintaining a low center. In several instances, I saw Williams work through double teams and manage to make or at least assist on tackles. Even when he was unable to make tackles, Williams usually was able to either stop the surge of the opposing linemen or was able to create a surge of his own before anchoring behind of line of scrimmage. Though Williams will likely be unable to fight through double teams in the NFL at the same rate, he does show a very good understanding of how to get low in response to double teams and this should carry over even against stronger and larger lineman. The area that Williams seems to struggle is recognizing when the double teams are coming at all. I saw instances where Williams engaged with the first lineman only to appear blindsided by the second. Williams will need to hone his reaction to double teams or he’ll likely find his bell rung more than a few times against NFL linemen.
Against triple teams, and yes he was triple teamed in multiple instances by three linemen, Williams did not fare particularly well. Then again, simply by being triple teamed at all, Williams had already won by allowing his linebackers and safeties an initial free reign over the rest of the field.
When facing passing situations against single lineman, Williams shows a good assortment of pass rushing moves including rips, swims, push-pull moves and bull rushes with finishing swims and rips. Williams' favorite pass rush move appeared to be to repeatedly punch the opposing lineman back in a bull rush, knocking them off balance, and then throwing a rip or swim to disengage and chase down the quarterback. This was highly effective against D-II linemen, and while I suspect NFL linemen won’t be so easily knocked off balance. Williams’ push-pull move was also highly effective, likely owing to his competition having to sell out lunging forward in order to slow him down. As with his bull-rushes, I can see this being moderately effective at the next level, though not nearly so much as it is at D-II. Williams also threw rips and swims off the snap but didn’t do them with the speed or angles necessary for them to be effective in the NFL in my opinion. Williams showed a good counter swim when his initial move did not work but displayed a very poor counter spin. Curiously, even though he often defeated his lineman, Williams often did not pursue the quarterback, backing off the line and looking to bat the ball down far too early. I’m not sure why Williams did this aside from being perhaps afraid of allowing the quarterback to break containment as this problem appeared to occur most often when Williams was lined up outside.
When double-teamed against the pass, Williams was able to split double teams at a good rate and create pressure, though this seemed to perhaps owe more to Williams' overwhelming strength relative to his competition more than good technique. Even when Williams did not get through the double team, he was able to generate pressure by driving one of the linemen back while shielding the other lineman away from his body. Again, Williams was sometimes blindsided by double teams and I saw a few instances where he was simply laid out and negated from the play. Williams also appears to have the same problem he has against single linemen in giving up pursuit of the quarterback far too early.
Overall, I see Williams as someone with the potential to become a good run stuffer with decent pass rush skills out of any interior line position in any alignment. However, I think that the transition to the NFL will be particularly hard for Williams and he’ll have to further refine his technique to compensate for situations where he can no longer simply bully opposing linemen. Williams’ gaudy sack totals will likely never be matched at an NFL level as his pass rush skills would only be okay at a D-I level and his sack totals are heavily inflated due to playing inferior competition.
Williams warrants a third-round grade from me but if the Packers were to select him at the back of the second round, I wouldn't cry much. I think Williams could be better than a third round player but there is inherent guesswork and risk in his selection.
That’s all guys. I promise next time I’ll look at someone other than a defensive lineman, possibly Arthur Brown.