Now this was a head scratching selection. The Jets must really see something in Campbell to warrant taking him above any safety prospects that were still available. Campbell did play DT at Michigan as well as many other responsibilities, however rumor has it that the Jets see Campbell more as an offensive lineman. Most likely a guard. We have plenty of guards on this roster, so the Jets either firmly believe in the safeties we already possess or they firmly believe that Campbell's value in the 6th round was simple too hard to pass up. Either way, he is going to be a very interesting story to look out for throughout training camp and into pre-season.
Campbell attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit, playing his football under head coach Thomas Wilcher. Enough can't be said for Campbell's high school success. He was a three year starter on the offensive line and a two year starter on the defensive line. He was also the teams kicker and punter, ran the 40 yard dash in 4.9 seconds and recorded 15 reps on a 315lb bench press. For a High School guy, that is pretty incredible.
I would love to list all the accolades that he received in high school, but quite frankly there are far too many and you'll be bored before you get a quarter of the way through. So here are some highlights, he was a Parade All-American, a EA Sports All-American first teamer, Super-Prep All-American as well as being named Super-Prep defensive player of the year. He completed his senior season with 55 tackles, 22 for a loss, 9 sacks, 2 fumbles on defense and graded out at the 98 percentage for his blocking on the offensive side of the football.
When you look at his high school performance, it's little wonder that he was one of the most sought after recruits in the nation. Scout.com rated him as a 5* prospect, the best player in Michigan and the 6th best DT in the country. Rivals.com rated him as a 5* prospect, the #1 player in the state of Michigan, the 5th best DT in the country and the 26th best player at any position in the country. As expected he had numerous scholarship offers from programs across the country. He narrowed his choices to a final three of Miami, LSU and Michigan. He originally committed to Michigan while Lloyd Carr was head coach, but decided to keep his options open when Rich Rodriguez took over. However in the end he stuck with his original commitment to play at Michigan.
One thing that has always plagued Campbell is his position, where does he fit best? is he an offensive tackle or is he a defensive tackle. His freshman year he saw action in all 12 contests on special teams, and in 9 games as a defensive tackle. He registered 4 tackles, 1 for a loss and 2 pass break-ups. In 2010 he was again frustrated with inconsistent playing time. Often featuring on the special teams unit, he also played as a back-up DT/NT. He did see some action on the offensive line against Penn State and was even used as a full back in a goal line situation against Notre Dame. It seemed the coaching staff still saw him as a defensive tackle after a brief flirtation with him on the offensive side of the ball midway through the 2010 season, however more and more people were starting to question this 5* recruits lack of production.
Although he did see more time in 2011, he was again used mostly in a reserve role, not doing enough in the Spring to push himself into a starting spot. However at least he did start to make a few plays. He would end the season on 14 tackles, 2 for a loss and 2 sacks.
Many saw 2012 as the big year that Campbell could break out. Michigan lost three important cogs of their defensive front before the 2012 season in Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen and Will Heininger. Unfortunately he did not get off to the best start as he was arrested and charged in the Spring of 2012 with misdemeanor and felony destruction of property. However I think I'm correct in saying that his first career start came on September 1st against Alabama. To his credit he did improve in 2012 recording 44 tackles, 1.5 for a loss and 1 sack. He was a big 10 honorable mention by the coaches. He did contest 51 games in a row, so while he may not have been a starter, he was durable.
However William Campbell will leave Michigan as a player who never lived up to the hype. It's not uncommon for a 5* recruit to not have an impact but a lot of Wolverine fans I know and speak to said that he just never looked like he was ever going to fulfill the potential. Perhaps the uncertainty about his position affected him, perhaps being stuck behind talented defensive lineman his first three years hindered his potential to grow. However you go to a big program, and you have to outperform people to get playing time. This isn't high school where size will get you where you want to go, in FBS competition you come up against players just as big, just as hungry and just as nasty.
+ Naturally big guy, with good weight distribution
+Very active and quick feet for such a big guy
+ Very strong, stood up to double teams
+ Durable, played 51 straight games at Michigan
~ Very little production first three years.
~ Hasn't played offense properly since High School
~ Very sloppy hand technique
~Doesn't play with good balance or a strong base
~Finds it hard to disengage from blocks
~Not the best motor, often gets gassed early.
It's really hard to evaluate William Campbell because it seems almost certain that we are flipping him to the offensive side of the football which is 100% the right thing to do. Personally I think Michigan should have developed him at offensive tackle or guard when they moved him over briefly in the middle of the 2010 season. He doesn't have the skills to play DT at the next level, but if he can polish his technique, with the foot quickness and strength he has, he could be a factor at RT or even RG. He has a good wingspan to play tackle and again that foot quickness makes him intriguing. The Jets must have seen something in him to warrant taking him in the 6th round. These selections are built for people like Campbell. A guy who obviously has a lot of natural athletic ability, who may have struggled at his position in college. I'm going to be really interested to see how he performs in the summer, and if he actually makes the team out of camp. There are no guarantees he will.