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Eagles All-22 Film Review: Milton Williams offers exciting potential

Will Philadelphia’s young defensive tackle be able to reach his ceiling?

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

This week will be the last rookie film review as none of the others played enough snaps to warrant a full article. I have profiled DeVonta Smith (click here) and Landon Dickerson (click here) already, so it’s time to get to the 3rd round pick, Milton Williams. My plan is to hit on some other young players the next weeks (let me know in the comments if you want to see a breakdown of anyone in particular).

This will follow the same format as usual. Let’s just get right to it.

Stats/Scheme Note

As usual, all numbers from Pro Football Focus. Remember some stats are heavily subjective but I still think some of them are useful to look at.

- 494 total snaps.

- 203 at DLT. 90 at DRT. 118 at LE at RE.

It was really interesting to watch the deployment of Milton Williams throughout the year as he divided opinions. Some people, such as Greg Cosell, saw him as more of an EDGE defender than an interior defensive lineman but I saw him the other way! That’s the beauty of this stuff. The Eagles obviously see him as more of an interior defensive lineman too.

222 run D snaps. 272 Pass D snaps.

- Surprisingly low PFF grade. 49 total (ranks 101st among IDL). 45 run D grade (not sure what PFF were watching), 60 pass rush grade.

- 19 pressures, 2 sack, 4 hits, 13 hurries.

- 19 ‘stops’. Per PFF - A tackle that equals a failure for the O. Only 3 less than Cox who played 805 total snaps.

More advanced stats… all based on players with at least 20% of snaps.

- 67th in pressures amongst IDL per PFF.

- 8.9% Pressure ‘win rate’ which ranks 72nd overall. For context, Hargrave 21% (2nd best behind Donald!!!), Cox 13.8%, Ridgeway 8.6%.

- Run D stop rate of 7.9% ranks 49th in the league. For context, Hargrave 8%, Cox 6%, Ridgeway 3.1%

Strengths

+ Can hold the point of attack really well on running downs. Strong anchor despite a small build, plays with really good pad level.

+ Keeps his eyes in the backfield very frequently and does a good job making a play on the ball carrier.

+ Can be explosive off the snap. Will catch out offensive lineman with his first step and quickness.

+ Good at transitioning speed to power. Showed he could collapse the pocket at times from the inside.

+ Really good athlete for the position. Quick twitch athlete with good closing speed too.

+ Due to lack of size, can be pushed off the ball initially (especially by double teams) BUT has the ability to recover due to his athleticism and speed.

+ Can play multiple positions across the interior defensive line.

Weakness

- Struggles to disengage when rushing the QB. Needs to use his hands and develop proper counter moves.

He’s the left DT here

Right DT here

- Can occasionally get washed in the run game at times. Still undersized for a defensive tackle.

- Upside may be defined by his ability to rush the quarterback.

- Doesn’t have the bend or quickness to make plays as an EDGE defender. I know some projected him as an EDGE but I did not see it at all this year.

Overall

I barely noticed Milton Williams the first weeks of the season, but he had a really good second half of the season. I must have been watching a different player than PFF was because I thought he developed into a really good run defender. I think he ended the season far ahead where I thought he would be. It was a very promising rookie year and he was a very reliable number 3 defensive tackle. I would summarise his film from this year by describing him as a very athletic, productive run defender who needs to develop his pass rush moves further to get to the next level.

Going into the season, I questioned whether he would be able to bulk up and handle work on early downs. He certainly can. If he achieved all of that in one offseason, you would have to imagine he can continue to get bigger and stronger too and should become even more of a force in the run game as his career progressed.

The Future…

I hinted at this earlier, but his upside is really dependent on whether he can learn to rush the quarterback. He has the athletic explosive traits to be a productive pass rusher but he does not know how to use his hands properly to disengage from blockers and does not have any real counter moves at this point if he loses the leverage battle at the snap. Once an offensive lineman gets his hands on his shoulder pads he struggles to get free and he must develop this.

I think he is already good enough to be an average starting defensive tackle and is a perfect #3 behind Cox/Hargrave. If, and this is a big if, he can develop a true pass rush and learn to use his hands more as a rusher then I think he has the potential to be a very good starting defensive tackle in this league, which is a great return on a 3rd round pick. I don’t think he has the sheer size or power to be an ‘elite’ player but you wouldn’t expect that return from a mid-round pick anyway.

I love his upside but there is a slight projection to say that he has already ‘made it’ as he still needs to continue to get stronger and develop as a pass rusher but overall, I think you have to say that Howie Roseman absolutely nailed this pick and I am really excited to see just how good he can be in the future. I loved this pick before the season and even I was surprised by how quickly he developed this season.