Leonard Williams, DE, USC
Up until the last week or so, the consensus pick here was Leonard Williams. Then, the Titans brought Marcus Mariota in for a visit, Ken Whisenhunt said some things, and all of a sudden all the experts moved Mariota into this slot. This is an extremely important pick for Tennessee. They are the most irrelevant team in the NFL right now. Some would say that means they need to take a flashy player. However, I never seriously considered taking Mariota in this spot.
The Titans had the fourth worst run defense in the NFL last season. Williams is the consensus best non-QB player in the draft. He could provide an immediate impact to a defensive line that so desperately needs it. With the number two pick, they need to pick the best player available, and that is Leonard Williams, who may be the best overall player in the draft. Here’s why.
Leonard Williams is a 6’5, 302 pound, athletically gifted defensive end. Despite weighing over 300 pounds, Williams is able to track down speedy wide receivers and running backs. Williams is over 300 pounds, yet he can run step for step with WRs and RBs. That isn’t fair. His 40 time was officially 4.97, the same time as Jameis Winston. 4.97 for a 300 pound DE? That’s scary. Watch Williams catch up to a speedy Fresno State QB here:
And chase down a wide receiver here:
Williams is also one of the strongest players in the draft. He has supreme strength that allowed him to get by blockers at will in college. He will need to adjust in the NFL, obviously, but he will only get stronger after a few years in the league. Williams seemed to be only giving 75% on many plays at USC, yet he would knock offensive lineman to the ground. At the combine, Williams tied for the most bench press reps with 35 reps of 225 pounds. For comparison, JJ Watt benched 34 reps. Ndamukong Suh benched 32. Williams can be as strong as any player in the NFL in a few years.
Williams is also an excellent tackler. During his junior season at USC, Williams recorded 80 tackles, seven sacks, and forced three fumbles. The most impressive part of his tackling to me is his ability to drag runners down by their legs. If a running back gets past the line of scrimmage, Williams is able to jump and grab him by the legs and drag him down. Watch this excellent play he made against Nebraska:
Williams reminds me a lot of JJ Watt. Like Watt, he is able to play anywhere on the defensive line. USC would constantly move him around the line, playing different positions. Like Watt, Williams often will knock down or deflect passes. He even recorded an interception in his final year at USC.
Bottomline, Leonard Williams is the correct pick for the Titans at number two. Marcus Mariota is not a fit for their offense at all, and while Zach Mettenberger most likely isn’t the answer either, I believe Mariota would bust in Tennessee. I think the Titans have two options at number two: Take Williams, or trade down and pick up some extra picks. Don’t take Mariota. Leonard Williams has a chance to be a perennial All-Pro player for ten years.
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2) Tennessee Titans (mchiodo) - Leonard Williams, DE, USC - [Explanation]
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