It seems like every year Nick Saban’s defense at Alabama gets better and better. Part of this is due to the defensive wizardry of Saban; he and his staff are among the best coaches in the country. However, just as important is the quality of players that Saban recruits.
In the last decade, he’s recruited the likes of Dre Kirkpatrick, Dont’a Hightower, Marcell Dareus, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and a litany of other high draft choices. This season, the Crimson Tide’s defense has been suffocating, as the next group of recruits is carving out its own legacies. One of the players at the top of that list is edge rusher Tim Williams, who looks like a top five pick next spring.
The 6-foot-3, 252 pound Williams looks like a man among boys when he flies off the edge at the snap. He is able to blend that speed with strength and instincts into a complete package that would be an instant playmaker for any NFL team. NFL scouts will look for “first step quickness,” which is how fast a player can move on his first step off the ball. For Williams, this is definitely a strength. He is also strong and can push blockers into the backfield and wreck the pocket with his muscle alone.
This play against USC is a perfect example of Williams’ speed affecting a play. At the snap, Williams is lined up on the edge with his hand off the ground. He flies off the edge and quickly beats the tackle. The quarterback has little time to scan the field before he has to adjust to Williams’ pressure. Although Williams doesn’t record a sack, his pressure forces the quarterback to alter his timing and the throw, therefore ruining the play for the offense. Obviously, staying upright and getting a sack would be preferred here, but Williams’ speed alone makes the play a win for the defense.
Here, Williams uses his power and speed to blow up a passing play. At the snap, Williams’ bursts off the line and heads directly for the quarterback. The offensive tackle attempts to block him, but Williams is able to hold him off with just one arm, an impressive feat in itself. As he holds the lineman off, he motors toward the quarterback and is able to combine for a sack and kill the play.
In drafting Williams, an NFL team is going to get a pass rusher who has the potential to become one of the best in the league. The problem for Williams is rounding out his game. He isn’t terrible as a run defender, but he definitely needs work in that area. Because he is so used to flying off the ball on passing plays, he can over pursue on runs and sometimes have difficulty shedding run blocks.
Even despite his issues against the rush, Williams should be drafted at the top of the first round in the spring. The NFL is a passing league, making the chief task of any defense to slow down their opponents’ passing offense. In Tim Williams, the NFL will be getting a player who is tailor-made to do just that.