With the 2012 NFL season in the books, and the scouting combine in the rear-view, it's time to take a closer look at the 50 players we think will be the biggest difference-makers at the next level from this draft class. To that end, we're happy to continue this year's Shutdown 50 scouting reports (Hint: There may actually be more than 50). You can read last year's group here. The final 50 players were chosen and ranked based on game tape, combine and Pro Day results, overall positional value, and attributes and liabilities on and off the field.
#35: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
We continue this year's series with Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams, the JUCO transfer from Australia who made a real name for himself in Nick Saban's defense in 2012. Williams grew up playing basketball and rugby in Brisbane, and coaches from the University of Hawaii discovered him there when he was 16. Since his academics were incomplete, Williams enrolled at Western Arizona Community College, amassing 76 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and six sacks in 18 games over two seasons. Saban came calling before the 2011 season, and Williams chose the Crimson Tide over a host of other high-profile schools. He started 13 games that first season as a five-tech end in Alabama's multiple fronts, moving inside on passing downs.
In 2012, Saban moved the 6-foot-4, 323-pound Williams inside to nose tackle, but he also played a lot of three-tech. It was inside on a regular basis where Williams was able to truly display his impressive combination of speed, agility, leverage, and freakish strength. He had 17 solo tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks in two seasons with Alabama, but those stats don't tell the whole story with Williams -- you really have to look at the tape and project another level of future development to get the picture.
Williams skipped the speed and agility drills at the scouting combine due to a knee issue, but ran a 4.92 40 at Alabama's pro day. He proved to be agile in the short shuttle and three-cone drill, rounding out all the signs of his athletic potential. We've seen many underdeveloped athletic freaks come into the NFL in recent years, especially on the defensive line, and between Williams, Ezekiel Ansah, and Margus Hunt, this is a banner year for them. But Williams may be the easiest of this year's crop to project to the next level because his raw skills are easily superimposed onto potential football greatness.
Pros: Benches 600 pounds in the weight room and that upper-body strength transfers to the field. Incredible leverage player who frequently takes on double teams as a nose shade defensive tackle, or straight over center, and rarely gets stood up or rocked back. Will push back blockers who outweigh him by 20 and 30 pounds, and will occasionally throw a blocker out of the way. Comes off the snap low and angry and loves to mix it up. Disengages from blocks quickly and gets on the move to tackle ballcarriers. Gums up gaps of one and two blockers, allowing others to flow through and make plays. Equally effective as a three-tech tackle shading outside the guard, especially on run plays.Read More »from The Shutdown 50: Alabama DT Jesse Williams