Draft grades are useless unless they praise the Jets. Most of the early Draft grades for 2019 are useful. See below.
The Jets tried to trade the third pick to no avail. There’s nothing wrong with getting Williams, though. He’s a powerhouse defensive tackle who splits gaps with ease and can disrupt the pocket. Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams likes to create pressure up the middle. Now the Jets have that, mitigating the concern about their outside players. The only slight issue that the Jets still have Leonard Williams, and the makeup of their defensive line remains a little puzzling.
The Jets landed the top player in the draft.
The Jets were able to snag Alabama’s Quinnen Williams with the third-overall pick. They got the best player in the draft to pair with possibly the best player in the draft from last season.
Williams is the most polished pass rusher in the draft, and it’s rare to find a defensive tackle who has multiple pass-rush moves coming out of college. Great pick.
I love this pick. I could make a case for Josh Allen as the Jets needed more of a pure pass rusher, but this kid will be dominant. People in the league have compared him to Reggie White, let’s slow down a bit on that, but this kid is a dominating player. Grade: A
Unable to trade this pick, the Jets “settled” for whom many believe is the best player in this draft. Williams played multiple positions in Alabama’s high-level scheme, which will serve him well under new Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who likes to diversify. Williams was a fast-riser in 2018, but he draws rave reviews for his mechanics, particularly his hand usage. He obviously checks the size and quickness boxes, but the question is whether he has enough burst and twitch to be a consistent gap penetrator. Stylistically, Williams is very similar to Jets incumbent defensive lineman Leonard Williams. Leonard—who, it should be noted, is a free agent after this season, though one worth re-signing—may now find himself operating at defensive end once in a while, considering the Jets are still weak at this spot.
Day 1 grade: A
Draft analysis: Williams was a dominant player at Alabama and will be a thorn in the side of NFL offensive lines. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams wanted an interior presence in his four-man fronts, and Williams is all of that. Jets fans may be looking for an outside pass rusher, but it’s tough to fault them for taking Williams.
The Jets tried to trade out of the No. 3 pick, but couldn’t find a partner and “settled” for the best defensive player in the draft. Williams is a nose tackle at heart, and that position isn’t typically one taken this high in the draft, but he’s a different breed. Williams is just too quick for interior offensive linemen. Single-block him, and he’ll push right through the line. Double-team him and he’ll split it with quickness. The Jets didn’t need necessarily fill a major need with this pick, but it would’ve been hard to pass up on the value.
Strengths: Leverage, hand usage, awareness
Weaknesses: Not a size-quickness wonder
Should the Jets be taken seriously now, or are they still a punchline? Let’s weigh the evidence.
Take them seriously: The Jets hired Adam Gase as head coach.
LOL: Gase acted like David Byrne from the Talking Heads circa 1982 at his first press conference.
Take them seriously: The Jets signed Le’Veon Bell.
LOL: Bell didn’t show up for the start of voluntary workouts, which is totally OK, but…gosh, it would be great if he showed a little eagerness to get back to work after his year off.
Take them seriously: The Jets signed Anthony Barr.
LOL: Oops, Barr changed his mind.
Take them seriously: The Jets added Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator.
LOL: The Jets added Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator.
The jury is clearly still out. That makes this draft—particularly this pick—so important.
There is more to Williams than just size, athleticism and a Nick Saban seal of approval.
Williams lost his mother to breast cancer in his early teens. His father became a single parent to four children. Williams became the family cook, rising before dawn to make breakfast for the family. (For more, read John Tally’s 2015 AL.com profile of the young Williams. It’s a remarkable story, and a nontraditional one about how “toughness” means much more than being an aggro guy on a football field.)
Williams is the “safest” top player in this draft class: dependable, mature, athletic enough, big enough, well-coached and fundamentally sound.
Safe picks are rarely sexy picks, and the worst thing about Williams is that he isn’t a force of nature like Aaron Donald or Fletcher Cox. Williams is the type of defender who makes other defenders look better.
The Jets allowed 2,021 rushing yards and 4.6 yards per rush, and they’re thin along the defensive line. They also lack pure pass-rushing talent: Safety Jamal Adams often looks like their most dangerous sack threat.
Williams upgrades the defensive infrastructure. Those old “laughing stock” Jets are becoming less and less funny with every move the team makes.
Williams is a powerful interior lineman with extraordinary quickness and strength. The 2018 first-team AP All-American shoots out of his stance with shocking speed and easily discards would-be blockers with strong, perfectly timed swipes, clubs, and swim moves that leave linemen grasping at clouds of dust. He’s a top-tier pass rusher and dominant run defender who racked up 8.0 sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss last season. He has a nonstop motor and brings the versatility to line at multiple spots on the line.
Going with Williams here means the Jets will have to keep looking elsewhere for a dedicated edge-rushing presence, but I’ve got absolutely no problem with their choice. Williams is one of my favorite players in this draft—he has the potential to be a high-impact player early in his career, and his ability to slice through the offensive line and make opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable will be a major boon for coordinator Gregg Williams’s defense.