Name: Jonah Williams
Position: Offensive Line
Jonah Williams is one of several top tackle prospects in this year’s class who some suspect may benefit from a move to guard early in his career. With Williams, the primary reason for it would be his length, or lack thereof. That said, Williams is a fluid mover with sound technique who should be an immediate starter, regardless of who takes him.
Virtually every element of Williams’ game would suggest he could be a good NFL left tackle, with one exception: his lack of length. While he has ideal height for the position, his short arms could leave him susceptible to longer pass rushers on the edge. His quick feet and exquisite technique helped mitigate this issue, as he almost always maintained proper positioning, and thus did not need to use length to recover. As far as overall mass goes, he is built solidly through his lower body, so his ability to hold up inside or outside should not be an issue, even though he is a bit on the lighter side.
As it should be, Williams’ lower body creates most of his power. He has quick feet that move constantly, allowing him to create movement. His thick lower half also creates a strong anchor that can recover in the rare situations where opponents catch him off-balance. While he is not the dominant finisher of other top line prospects, Williams carries more than enough strength to stand up to upper-echelon interior linemen. Observe the clip below where Christian Wilkins briefly gets a push, before Williams digs in and completely stonewalls one of the nation’s best defensive tackles.
The biggest thing that jumps out from Williams’ tape is his quickness in down blocks and at the second level. He has an extremely high football IQ, so he knows when to secure his block and when to pass it off and move to the next guy. He makes these decisions quickly, giving him that half-second edge he needs to make the next play. His quick feet allow him to adjust to linebacker movements, and he commits hard to his decisions with no hesitation. While not the mauler like, say, Cody Ford, Williams wins thanks to impeccable technique and decision-making. He gets hands inside, he drives his legs and he devours smaller edge rushers. Williams also has plenty of experience pulling and down blocking interior defenders, and typically holds up well in one-on-one situations. In virtually every sense, Williams maintains advantage through great technique and perfect balance through his base.
Williams’ possesses prototypical left tackle athleticism. Every movement he makes is smooth; he has a quick kick step that does not over-extend, his side-to-side movements allow for perfect mirroring and his quickness to land quality punches make up for his short arms. It is tough to find film where defenders catch him off balance or beat him with speed rushes. Below is one of the few plays where he gets caught. This clip shows a scenario where Williams’ lack of length may necessitate the move inside in the NFL. If his hands and set are not on point, longer pass rushers can get inside and control him. Look below as Williams’ flails his hands, allowing the defender to get positioning, stand him up and drive him into the ground.
But these types of plays are few and far between. Far more often, Williams’ well-timed punches negate any length advantage the defender has. On top of that, few defenders possess the quickness necessary to catch Williams off-balance. He is a patient, disciplined pass blocker who never over-extends and picks up stunts with ease. While his relative lack of size might make one think he could suffer against bull rushes inside, one would be hard-pressed to find clips where Williams gets overpowered. His technique is too good, his anchor too strong, so he should fare well inside if need be.
The fit for the Vikings is obvious. Williams projects as a day one starter, likely in the mid-to-late-first round, who also brings some positional versatility. Chances are he will start his career at guard, but also possesses most of the necessary traits to be a good tackle at the next level. For now, however, he compares a bit to Connor Williams of last year’s class. Like Jonah Williams, the Texas grad possessed most of the physical features one would want in a tackle. However, due to his lack of length, Williams bumped inside to guard, and started double digit games as a rookie for the Cowboys.
With the Vikings, Williams would almost certainly have a starting job from the get-go. Whether that would be tackle or guard is unclear; the Vikings have reportedly discussed moving Riley Reiff to guard, opening the door for Brian O’Neill potentially at left tackle. But whichever position Williams ends up playing, the Vikings would get a sound, athletic player who can fill some major holes on the line.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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