Works down the line well
Hard to block one on one
Takes advantage of smaller lineman
Good finesse moves/Ok power moves
Slow reaction on snap
Strength against bigger lineman
No true identity of position
Leonard Williams is a versatile defensive lineman that plays for the University of Southern California. Williams was heavily recruited by a number of teams coming out of high school but decided to take his talents to Los Angeles, California. Last year USC was a roller coaster of a team showing signs of great promise as well as irrepressible weakness. There were times they would let up single digit points against and time were the defense looked inept giving up 62 at one point against Arizona State University.
On an individual level Leonard Williams displayed some of the same characteristics consistent with the Trojans defense last year. One could argue to say that Williams was consistent and one of the better players on the defense and I would not disagree with that sentiment. Williams was undoubtedly the anchor of the defensive line. With that being said there are a number of areas that he will need to improve this upcoming year to make a successful jump to the pros.
Watching the film of Williams last year there was a lot to like about his play. He did an amazing job of working down the line on plays to get a tackle or a sack. As the play would shift left or right he had the uncanny ability to move down the offensive line and make a play at the end of the line. Williams is also a handful to block one on one, which resulted in double coverage or at least a chip a lot of the time. If he gets you one on one there is a good chance he will make a play. Teams noticed this and started chipping and doubling up on Williams to render him more ineffective than he would have been otherwise.
For a man weighing almost 300 pounds he is very quick and moves laterally well. His quickness is also a downfall at points missing tackles because of over committing. He gets a head of steam and then it is hard for that big body to change directions. He tallied an impressive 74 total tackles last year but could have had even more if he was able to refine his movements and change direction easier. His quickness plays into his ability to use finesse moves well against the offensive linemen to get to the quarterback, which he did six times last year.
As good as Leonard Williams is there is still a multitude of areas that he needs to improve. On many occasions Williams is slow to react to the snap. He gets off the line quickly but his reaction to the start of the play seems a little slow. He sits in his stance and as the play starts he is just a step slow getting started. Another tendency he has is getting too upright in his stance when contact is made with the offensive lineman. When they engage with each other he gets pushed upright losing his low center of gravity and vantage point. Staying low is something all linemen can work on and Williams is no exception to this rule.
Williams is absolutely a versatile player, which many consider a positive, In this case I almost consider his versatility to hurt him for a couple of reasons. In basketball they often reference a guy as an ‘inbetweener’ meaning he is too big for one position but to small for the other position. This is kind of how you can describe Williams on the defensive line. He is a good size for a defensive tackle and a little big for a defensive end. But at the same time he is fast for a defensive tackle and a little slow for a defensive end. Williams is strong for a defensive end and a little weak for a defensive tackle. Leonard has no true identity on the defensive line and his discrepancies in abilities between positions leave him as a bit of an outlier. If he can increase his strength and hone his quickness he could be one of the best defensive tackles coming out of this draft. He has the ability but at this point it is a big ‘if.’
Leonard Williams has a big year ahead of him where he has a lot to prove to pro scouts if he wants to be drafted high in this years upcoming NFL Draft. He is someone to keep an eye on because if he improves in a couple of areas he can really increase his draft stock.
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