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2017 NFL Draft Profile: Tim Williams

The former ‘Bama LB is a first round talent with second round problems

NCAA Football: Alabama at Louisiana State John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Williams will getcha.

He’s the quarterback’s version of the eighteen-wheeler in the “Enter Sandman” music video. He is fast, he is big and he will not stop coming for you.

Williams is arguably the most athletic outside linebacker in this draft class. Mostly used as a situational edge rusher at Alabama, his first step off the ball was devastating and any offensive tackle trying to protect his quarterback needed to have their head on a swivel to ensure Williams didn’t make it past them.

His stat line is a little misleading: 57 total tackles in four years. Here’s the kicker, though: 38 of those were solo, 30 of those 38 were for a loss and 20 of those 30 were total sacks. Needless to say, he made the most of the time he had on the field.

As much of a premium as NFL teams put rushing the passer on, Williams seems to be a second-to-third-round pick across the board. Why? Questionable decisions made in his time at a Alabama, including multiple failed drug tests and a first-half suspension during the Kentucky game this past season for a gun possession arrest.

It ain’t about the talent. It’s the baggage that comes with it.

The Numbers

Williams’ Measurables

Height Weight Arm Length Hand Size
Height Weight Arm Length Hand Size
6'3" 244 lbs. 32 3/4" 9 1/4"

Williams’ Combine.csv

40-yd Dash Vertical Broad Jump 3-Cone 20-yd Shuttle
40-yd Dash Vertical Broad Jump 3-Cone 20-yd Shuttle
4.68 sec. 33.5" 124.0" 7.36 sec. 4.57 sec.

The Athlete

There is no doubt in my mind that Tim Williams will be dominant at the next level. The immediate pro comparison one thinks of is Bruce Irvin. In fact, no one really expected Pete Carroll to draft Irvin in the first round of the 2012 draft and most thought it was an outrageous pick, but after five seasons in the league he has 29 sacks as a pass rushing specialist.

Williams returned for his senior season in 2016 when many thought he would be a possible first-round pick in last year’s draft. Like Jonathan Allen and O.J. Howard, though, Williams felt that returning would improve his stock even further as a true 3-4 OLB/DE hybrid.

In some ways, he was right. In 2015, he, along with fellow OLB Ryan Anderson, were used specifically in passing down situations and it was very successful. Williams was on the field for very few snaps, but still racked up 11.5 TFL and 9.5 sacks. As the “Jack” hybrid in Saban’s base 3-4 (the Tide defense operated out of this maybe 15% of the time) in 2016, he amassed 9 sacks and 16 TFL, along with a fumble recovery for a touchdown against Arkansas and a caused fumble that went back for a touchdown against Ole Miss.

Williams is truly a playmaker and this is evident in his performance against Texas A&M.

If you watch all of Williams’ plays in this game, the first thing you notice is that he’s lined up as a five-technique defensive end for pretty much all of it. This is where Williams will most certainly be utilized at the next level.

Playing the five-technique means that he’s lined up on the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle. This is important to note, because at his biggest, Williams was 250 pounds and almost every down he’s playing, he is forced to line up against a 6’6”, 320 pound tackle.

This isn’t, of course, a novelty in the game of football, but it stresses just how valuable a player like Williams can be at the next level. Most likely, he won’t be a three-down linebacker, but the value you can get out of fresh legs every two downs or so, means he can do a lot against larger men.

One of his better plays against the run came against the Aggies and it can be seen at the 00:45 mark. Here, he’s lined up against the left tackle. It’s 3rd and 2, so it stands to reason that the Aggies will try to get the first down by running. Williams has to play this atypically from most of his 3rd downs.

The brilliance of the call by ‘Bama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is having Reuben Foster stunt as if he’s blitzing between the guard and tackle and instead allowing Williams to beat the tackle on the inside and slow the running back’s progress for no gain. Jonathan Allen is the one who seals the play, but without Williams’ disruption, the first down probably occurs.

Williams finished with two costly sacks on the game, one of which led to a scoop-and-score from Jonathan Allen.

Williams’ performance against Michigan State in the 2015 semi-final wasn’t as prolific as others, but there is one play that should signal to every GM how sound a pass rusher he is.

At the 01:53 mark, Williams is lined up against an obvious passing down on 3rd and 12. This time, Williams is lined up on the strong side of the defense going against the right tackle. The tackle tries his best to force Williams to the outside of the play, but Williams simply spins around him. The best part, however, is the technique of the club that he uses to knock the tackle to the ground following the spin move.

This frees Williams up to get to Connor Cook, who throws it away before going to the ground. The play was as good as a sack, though, and it led to a punt return for a touchdown, effectively putting the game out of reach.

On this single play, Williams displays everything a coach would want in a pass-rushing specialist: speed, power and tenacity. He never gives up on the play and, as a consequence, renders the Michigan State punt

Projection

At this point, and for the aforementioned issues, Tim Williams’ name most likely will not be called on Thursday evening. Like Randy Gregory, who found himself in hot water over similar character question marks, Williams is in a position to be desired heavily but not “millions of dollars” heavily. There are any number of teams that would kill to have a guy like Williams on their defense on third and long situations, but unless the Bengals want to out-Bengal themselves this year by taking him at number nine, his fate may be to get the call on Friday evening instead. Still, whatever team he ends up playing for is going to be getting a serious bargain for the chaos he will cause on Sundays in 2017.