Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The 2018 Buffalo Bills had one of the best defenses in the league (2nd Passing Yards per attempt, 10th Rushing Yards per Attempt), and one of the worst offenses (31st Passing Yards per attempt, 20th Rushing Yards per Attempt) as a result their season was strings of ups and downs resulting in a 6-10 season, and the 9th overall pick. The Bills current roster has a solid core of young talent; Josh Allen who was projected as a developmental type QB took over in the second game of 2018 and showed signs to have management confident he will develop into a franchise QB, their WR corps while lacking a true number 1 have 4 legitimate NFL starters in youngsters Zay Jones and Robert Foster and the newly signed John Brown and Cole Beasley. They have an aging but talented RB group consisting of two Eagles legends and future Hall of Famers in LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore. The Bills revamped their starting line signing 5 offensive linemen in Free Agency, although only newly acquired center is locked in for more than 2 years. Defensively they are well balanced with a mix of young defensive talent such as LB Tremaine Edmunds, and CB Tre’Davious White, and veteran leaders like Star Lotulelei, and Micah Hyde.
Looking down the roster it was quite clear that while the Bills have plenty of room for improvement across the roster (most notably OL, TE, WR, and DL), there were no glaring holes and the team would be best suited by drafting the player who brings the most value for the pick.
When the draft started there were six players whom I considered to be slam dunk prospects that I have little doubt will be day 1 starters and future pro-bowlers if not all-pros, and felt very confident GMs would overreach for need and one would fall to me at #9, unfortunately the only player left standing was Devin White, and while the possibility of Devin White and Tremaine Edmunds gives my inner Buddy Ryan serious joy, I just can’t find the value in drafting an off-ball LB in the 1st round in back to back years, especially in the 3-4 system the bills employ. Leaving me with my choice of tier 2 talents, guys who I still expect to develop into pro bowl players, but have some question marks that make me need to think and revisit the tape. This pick ultimately came down to 2 players D.K Metcalf and Jonah Williams, and went down to the wire. Metcalf is a popular mock draft pick for the bills and it makes perfect sense, Josh Allen biggest strength as a QB is his arm strength so pairing him with a deep threat monster like Metcalf would allow him to fully take advantage of that strength. So why did I leave Metcalf on the board? Metcalf has several red flags (3 cone drill, injury history, lack of production, limited route tree) that give me pause, while Jonah really only has one (arm length) but more importantly I feel the value of a franchise tackle is of more value, than a franchise WR and this WR class is extremely talented with plenty of top talent available at the top of the 2nd round, so by my board the overall value of Williams and 2nd round WR would be of more value than Metcalf and the options available in the 2nd round. Add that in the worst case scenario and Jonah struggles at tackle, he is an ideal fit to slide in to guard and should be able perform at a pro-bowl level at that position, and despite the higher possible ceiling for Metcalf the choice to me became quite clear. Keep it simple, draft Jonah Williams.
So now I explained the why, let’s get down to the who.
Jonah Williams has been a mainstay on the Crimson Tide offensive line since he came on campus as the number 2 tackle recruit in the country. Starting as a true freshman at RT, and playing the last two years at LT in the toughest division in College football Jonah Williams has lived up the hype. Jonah Williams received all American honors all 3 years (2016 Freshman, 2017 Third-team, and 2018 Unanimous 1st team) and has only allowed 2.5 sacks and alleged 12 pressures the last two years (2.5 sacks and 8 pressures 2017, and 0 sacks and 3 pressures in 2018). Jonah Williams comes is to the draft as a complete prospect with 3 years of tape against top competition, and, despite all the opportunity to nitpick, very few flaws emerge.
I’m going to start with the negatives because frankly Jonah Williams only really has one major red flag, and it will be easy to see on tape how irrelevant it is. It’s one of the flags that you will hear every time he gets brought up between now and when Mel Kiper gets done his super awesome and accurate draft grades but then come OTAs will never be discussed again. The big elephant on the draft board is Jonah Williams has short arms. For NFL coaches the ideal arm length for a tackle is at least 34 inches, Jonah Williams comes in at a Darren Sproles esc 33-5/8”. But Drc242, that’s only 3/8 of an inch, that can’t possibly be a big deal, well, luckily Pro Football Focus broke this down so I can show you just how big of a deal this is.
If that long-arm issue were really worrisome, surely it would have been exploited by likely first-rounder Clelin Ferrell (who is 6-foot-4 with long arms himself) in the National Championship Game. Below is every rep where Ferrell, and 6-foot-6 edge Austin Bryant, go with the long arm. Not one single pressure. As we can see, there are two key traits Williams possesses that neutralize his length disadvantage. The first is absurdly good hand placement. The fourth rush is probably the best example of this. As soon as Ferrell tips his hand, Williams swats it away, resets his hands and stops the long-arm before it even starts. The second is a rock-solid anchor. On the fifth play, Ferrell lands his hands perfectly with both engaging Williams’ shoulder pads. The problem is, Williams absorbs the contact, plants both feet and sits down in his tracks. He may be a touch over 300 pounds, but the Alabama tackle is an ox for a true junior.
SURVEY SAYS! ZIP, Nadda, Zilch, there is no significant statistical correlation between arm length and performance and in fact Jonah Williams tiny T-rex arms are longer than such scrubs like Future Hall of Famers Joe Thomas & Jason Peters, hall of very good players like Joe Staley and Duane Brown. Lineman fail for a large variety of reasons, but luckily for Williams arm length is seldom the reason why. If you still think Jonah Williams is going to struggle despite 3 years of amazing tape because his arms are 3/8” shorter than ideal, I would like to thank you for the amazing job you are doing as general manager for the Giants, keep up the good work Dave.
Jonah Williams, is not the type of tackle who will wow you with athleticism in open space, but in the trenches his technique is as good as a college prospect can get. The key elements to being an effective offensive tackle, Football IQ, hand technique, being able to set a base, and being able to mirror opposing pass rushers effectively. And Jonah Williams excels in all these and it shows up time and time again when you look at the tape.
These two plays are a great illustration of all of those attributes in action, at the snap Jonah gets a great kick and right away is in perfect position, absorbs the contact of the defender (and in the first clip batting the defensive ends hand away) gains leverage, and uses their momentum against them forcing them harmlessly around the edge of the pocket. Jonah Williams exhibits great snap timing and tremendous lateral agility that will allow him to maintain position and balance while dealing with speed rushers around the edge, and his tremendous base allows him to successfully handle a bull rush. His ability to recognize stunts is extremely impressive for a true junior, and is a great demonstrator of his high football IQ1.
Another aspect that goes underappreciated by Jonah is that he has the awareness to switch up his pass set and keep the opposing pass rusher on edge, in the above video unlike the rest of the snaps you’ll see Jonah gets aggressive and attack the defensive end and dominate him through the entire rep. Keeping the opposition guessing is a key element to success in the NFL, and Jonah has shown the awareness in college to not just settle in on one style of play but be able to handle the chess match necessary to win in the NFL.
In additional to tremendous pass blocking technique, Jonah is tremendous in the run game as well. He shows a great penchant for driving his defended back and to the ground and while you won’t see him streaking down the side line when asked to pull he is more than agile enough to get out in front of linebackers and drive them back in the open field. Very rarely would you see a missed assignment in the running game on Jonah’s account.
Wanted to end with these three plays from the National Championship game where Jonah Williams was matched up against 1 on 1 against fellow first round pick Clelin Ferrell, and why they give me super high expectations for Jonah at the NFL level. The first is to illustrate his ability to pat away the hand from Clelin preventing him from using his longer arms and then the ability to fluidly slide with him along the pocket. And the 2nd and 3rd Clelin initially wins with a strong bulrush, but you see Jonah Williams immediately recover and reestablish his base and win the rep, despite getting losing initially. Being able to adjust on the fly mid-play as things go wrong is what makes a lineman great, and on these snaps the transition from “Oh Shit” to “Business as Usual” is a testament to his fundamentals that will allow him to succeed in the NFL.
Jonah Williams is not the flashy sexy player who is going to make big plays and be a household name but that’s not his job as offensive tackle. You want an offensive tackle (left tackle especially) who you can let sit on an island all game long, going one on one against the opposing teams best rusher, and your QB will never even know they showed up to the game. From the day Jonah Williams set foot on campus at Alabama he did just that, and there is not a doubt in my mind that if he gets drafted by the Bills, he will be doing just that this season, and every season for the next 10 years.
Do you approve of this pick?
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2019 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Cardinals (Philliesandthebees): Kyler Murray
2) 49ers (SakPrescott): Nick Bosa
3) Jets (thealien2696): Quinnen Williams
4) Raiders (SisyphusNoMore): Josh Allen
5) Buccaneers (EAGLESBSU): Montez Sweat
6) Giants (ablesser88): Dwayne Haskins
7) Jaguars (20Safety_Hazards): Jawaan Taylor
8) Lions (89Tremaine): Ed Oliver
9) Bills (drc242): Jonah Williams
10) Broncos (ItownBallers22):
11) Bengals (Phoenix X Maximus):
12) Packers (Palaniappan K M)
13) Bengals (wildcatlh):
14) Falcons (Happy24):
15) Washington (roberticus0):
16) Panthers (Triumph McCloud):
17) Giants (KevinDont):
19) Titans (Big Schmoopie):
20) Steelers (J. Wil):
21) Seahawks (NickfoleonDynamite):
22) Ravens (GMinTraining):
23) Texans (EaglesRock94)
24) Raiders (SummersInVA):
25) Eagles (I Need a Username):
26) Colts (Nolo0oo):
27) Raiders (SLC Eagle):
28) Chargers (LBCeaglesFan!):
29) Chiefs (Boxer Madness):
30) Packers (Kephas):
31) Rams (Matthieuck):
32) Patriots (Zett_66):
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think the Bills should pick in the 2019 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Buffalo Bills draft at No. 9 overall?
This poll is closed
2019 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft
1) Cardinals: Kyler Murray
2) 49ers: Nick Bosa
3) Jets: Quinnen Williams
4) Raiders: Josh Allen
5) Buccaneers: Montez Sweat
6) Giants: Dwayne Haskins
7) Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor
8) Lions: Ed Oliver