Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
Let's investigate the high potential of the University of Alabama's nose tackle, Jesse Williams.
Jesse Williams is a nose tackle for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He is originally from Brisbane, Australia, and played for two years at Arizona Western College before transferring to the University of Alabama. He has been named to the Associated Press All-SEC Second Team. Although his is primarily a defender, he has twice served as a fullback, delivering crushing blows in the mold of William "The Refrigerator" Perry. He is an extremely stout run defender, and although he has flashed pass-rushing potential, is simply not a Kris Jenkins-type that can single-handedly destroy the pocket. A better player comparison would be Sione Pouha.
Weight: 320 lbs.
Position: 3-4 nose tackle
School: University of Alabama
Using a measuring statistic known as the Production Ratio (SACKS + TACKLES FOR LOSS/NUMBER OF GAMES PLAYED = PRODUCTION RATIO), we can determine how productive Williams was in making plays behind the line of scrimmage. A ratio above one (1) is extremely good. In this case, Williams scores a .32 in his two years at Alabama, and a .63 in his four total years. We'll come back to this later.
As a 3-4 nose tackle, Williams' job is to command a double team and tie up blockers. He is not meant or asked to make plays in the backfield and rush the passer. To that end, Williams does his job extremely well. He is fantastic at clogging running lanes. His pad level and hand movement is very good as well, and he is able to shed blocks well. Williams is extremely strong, as it's been noted that he can bench press over 600 lbs. I mentioned the comparison to Pouha, which I think is apt; Williams is extremely hard to move, despite his relatively low weight for a NT. As far as medical concerns, there are none that can be found with Williams. He has had one concussion in his collegiate career, and missed a single game due to it. As far as I can tell, he has a very high work ethic and is very highly regarded by his teammates.
Although Williams is a great run defender, he is not a threat to rush the passer, as we saw above in the Production Ratio. He may be able to succeed as a 4-3 defensive tackle with additional rushers, however he seems primarily limited to a 3-4 to maximize his effectiveness. Ideally, he would weigh more, as top nose tackles average approximately 350 lbs. His biggest limitations are his non-existent pass-rushing threat, as well as the fact that he sometimes makes mistakes in play recognition, which may develop in time with the proper coaching.
Williams has a relatively high ceiling and can be a successful nose tackle, although I'm wary about whether or not he will ever be "elite." He clearly has a great deal of potential, and he will likely be drafted somewhere between the middle of the first round to middle of the second round of the draft. I'm not convinced the New York Jets have enough of a need at the position to use such a high round pick on him, especially with Kenrick Ellis waiting in the wings. However, if he is the best player on the board, he will be an effective starter for years to come. He is a relatively safe prospect, although not the homerun hit of Star Lotulelei or Sheldon Richardson. I would project his true value at the end of the second round.