Every April the NFL draft rolls around and almost every football fan wonders who their team is going to pick in the first round. For about three or four teams it ends up being a player from the University of Alabama. As the unquestioned powerhouse of the college football world, Alabama produces NFL talent at a rate currently unmatched by any other school. For the last few years we’ve been entering the beginning of the college football season by talking about an Alabama defensive lineman who is slated to be a first round pick; this year it was the monster of a man Raekwon Davis. Davis was supposed to be the dominant force that drives the Alabama defensive line, but that wasn’t the case. Red-shirt sophomore Quinnen Williams burst onto the scene this year and dominated every team he played. Williams took over the SEC, not one team could stop him. Let’s take a journey back to September and look at Quinnen Williams’ journey to becoming the most dominant player in the draft.
We’re going to be looking at clips from Williams’ best competition. This season, Alabama’s best competition was Louisville, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, Georgia, and Clemson. Let’s start with Louisville and work our way through the list.
This is the first game where Williams had any sort of national attention. In the play above we see him circled on the screen, lined up across from the guard. Williams jump off the snap isn’t too great in this play, but he makes up for it with his pass rush plan and execution. Williams gets his hands on the blocker and works to his edge; once he gets there, he executes a powerful rip move that removes any grasp the guard had on Williams. He doesn’t get the sack but he is able to pressure the quarterback and get credit for the quarterback hit. This is a good example of him using his strength and pass rush ability to make up for a sub-par get off. Williams’ ability to execute a pass rush plan and get past the blocker with ease shows how refined he is as a pass rusher.
The next play to look at is from the Ole Miss game. It was hard to pick just one play from this game because Williams was in the backfield almost every play. This play shows him lined over the guard again. This play ends up being a run play to the right side of the offensive line. When the ball is snapped, the guard lined up across from Williams pulls to the right side to be a lead blocker for the run, which leaves the center tasked to block him. The center jumps at Williams to try and get a quick initial hit on him to stun his rush. He has elite reaction time to that block and makes a quick swim move to effortlessly get past the center. Once he breaks past the offensive line he stares the running back down and patiently waits for him to make a decision on what way to run. The running back makes his decision, and, once again, Williams reacts quickly and lunges for the running back. Once he gets his hands on the ball carrier he drags him to the ground and ends the play. This play shows elite level reaction times and penetration techniques in order to get into the backfield and stop the run before it can start.
This game was one of Williams’ more challenging games. The soul reason for that being Texas A&M Center Erik McCoy, but that doesn’t stop him on this play. On this play Williams is lined up across from McCoy, but he doesn’t engage with him. When the ball is snapped Williams works across the line away from McCoy and towards the guard. Once he works his way to the guard he doesn’t put his hands on the guard, but rather swats the guards hands out of the way and swims over him to get past him. Once he gets past the blocker he makes a mad dash for the quarterback. He forces the quarterback to make a bad decision to get rid of the ball while getting tackled, leading to an interception. This play shows Williams’ ability to use his hands to keep a blockers’ hands off of him. Yet again it shows his ability to get into the backfield by using a well executed pass rush plan and very refined rush moves.
The play above isn’t the most exciting, but it shows a necessary aspect of the game for defensive tackles. Williams is circled on this play, lined up across from the offensive guard. When the ball is snapped it seems as if Williams isn’t ready, but he is. Williams immediately pushes the offensive guard back from his initial push and just stays locked up with him. Williams sees that it is a run play so he waits for the running back to get the ball, make his cut and get near Williams. He then sheds the block and engages with the running back, eventually becoming one of the players in on the tackle. Williams does a beautiful job of stacking and shedding the block; he stays engaged with him just long enough for the running back to commit in his direction, then sheds the blocker and gets the tackle on the ball carrier. When evaluating defensive tackles, stack and shed is a very important trait to watch for. In today’s NFL pass rush is valued more than run stuff, but teams need that guy that can eat space and grab the ball carrier. Williams has elite pass rush skills and elite run stuff skills that a team can use in any situation.
This play shows us another example of Williams elite hand usage and ability to work around a blocker. Williams is once again circled on the screen. Williams has a solid get off on this play, he is out of his stance before any other defensive lineman. Once the ball is snapped you can see Williams effortlessly using his hands to keep the blocker from locking him into an unnecessary block. Once Williams is able to keep the blockers’ hands off of him and work to the edge he uses his rip move to clear any last hindrances from the blocker. The hand fighting paired with the rip moves shows why Williams was so dominant against everybody this year.
This play is a bit different from the rest that we’ve seen. Williams is lined up at the top of the screen on the edge. When the ball is snapped he comes up out of his stance quickly and approaches the offensive tackle with force. At the point of attack the blocker attempts to win the hand fight, but Williams swats his inside hand out of the way and chops the outside hand off of him. Once he clears his pads of the blockers’ hands he turns the corner, forcing the tackle to wrap his hand around Williams’ chest. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the bend of a defensive end and isn’t able to get to the quarterback. However, this play shows how developed he is as a pass rusher, rarely do we see a defensive tackle kick out to the edge to rush the passer. Williams’ technique and refined pass rush moves are rivaled by no other interior defensive lineman and this play shows that.
This play is another incredible display of Williams’ pass rush plan and his ability to penetrate into the backfield and get the the quarterback. This plays comes against one of Alabama’s biggest games, the SEC Championship against Georgia. On this play, Williams jumps up out of his stance and pushes the offensive guard ever so slightly so he can get into position to use his rip move. After that push, he does exactly that; Williams’ uses his rip move and runs right past the blocker with ease. After he gets clear from the blocker, it’s over. Williams runs straight at the quarterback, wraps him up, and throws him to the ground. Throughout the regular season, Williams didn’t face any competition that could stop him. Even against top SEC competition, Williams was never stopped. Let’s see how he performed against the National Champions, Clemson.
This play shows another good example of Williams’ ability to stack and shed a block. Williams is lined up as a defensive tackle towards the bottom of the line. When the ball is snapped, the offensive tackle pulls across and runs right into Williams’ path. The running back gets the ball and attempts to follow his pull block to find a running hole. Once the running back gets within striking distance, Williams disengages from the block and tackles the ball carrier. This play is another great example of Williams’ ability as an elite run defender. Williams is the type of player a coach can line up anywhere on the defensive line due to his knack for getting into the backfield.
Williams shot up draft boards as the season progressed due to his pure dominance of everyone he played. Williams mix of size, speed, strength and technique all blend together perfectly in his game and make him a truly elite player. Williams has elite ability as a pass rusher and run defender. His refined pass rush moves and constant hand fighting allow him to constantly penetrate through the offensive line to get to the quarterback. His strength and ability to disengage from any block at any time makes him a lethal force as a run defender that isn’t moved very easily. Williams is a top-2 player in this class and shouldn’t get past the fifth pick come draft day. Any team that drafts Williams is getting an elite talent along the defensive line that can be the face of the defense for many years. Quinnen Williams emerged from the Alabama depth chart and showed why he is the most dominant player in this year’s draft.