On the day after final cuts, the Jets acquired a couple of new players including linebacker Quincy Williams. Today, we’ll be breaking him down in detail.
The 25-year old Williams is listed at 5’11” and 225 pounds and was a third round pick out of Murray State in 2019. He started eight games in his rookie season but was in a reserve role last year. For his career, Williams has racked up 59 tackles, three tackles for loss, a pass defensed and a forced fumble.
Williams was not a highly sought after high school recruit due to poor academics and a coach from Murray State had to “pound the table” to convince them to bring him in as a running back.
In the end, he played for them at safety, redshirting the 2014 season before moving into a reserve role. He started three games in each of the next two seasons before moving into a starting role as a junior.
In 2017, he started 10 of 11 games and racked up 57 tackles and his first career interception. He then was a first-team all Ohio Valley Conference selection after registering 111 tackles and two interceptions in his senior year.
Despite his improving stock and an excellent pro day workout, draft experts were shocked when the Jaguars selected him in the third round because it was widely considered he would go undrafted.
However, he was an opening day starter and even registered a tackle for loss on the first play of the season to get things off on the right foot. Over the course of the season, Williams would start eight games and register 48 tackles, but he was benched at one point because he was struggling and had some injury issues that caused him to miss five games.
In 2020, he began the year on injured reserve and when he did return to the line-up, he mostly saw action on special teams. He ended the season with 11 tackles, a pass defensed and a forced fumble in seven games.
The Jets claimed Williams off waivers a few weeks ago when he was released by the Jaguars in final cuts.
Now let’s take a look at what Williams brings to the table, divided into categories.
Williams is undersized for the linebacker position at the NFL level, and although the Jets have a few converted safeties playing this role, they each have much better length than Williams does.
His speed and explosiveness numbers are excellent with a sub-4.6 in the 40-yard dash and a 39.5-inch vertical. He also has a background in swimming and high jump, which may have boosted that explosiveness. However, his agility numbers were below average and his bench press was mediocre.
As noted, Williams was a safety in college, although he did convert to inside linebacker for his senior year. He was viewed as a safety prospect during the pre-draft process though.
With the Jaguars, Williams has only played as an off-ball linebacker and has been used in a variety of ways within this role.
Williams did have one year of experience as a linebacker but it was probably a lot to expect him to jump to the NFL level and be entirely comfortable within an NFL system from day one. Nevertheless, he has showcased some ability to read keys so he can diagnose quickly and close on the ball.
On this play, he does a good job of not being fooled on the read option look to make the play on the edge.
In coverage, he’s perhaps less comfortable from a positioning perspective. On this play, he seemed to pick up someone who was already covered, leaving a receiver open in behind him for a big play.
Nevertheless, he’s capable of carrying out underneath assignments to limit yardage in the short passing game.
Williams will be at his most effective in the running game if he can be kept clean. That will give him time to make reads, avoid traffic and make plays.
His range in pursuit is a big asset going sideline to sideline and again it’s important he can get outside before being slowed up or sealed to the inside by a blocker.
If a blocker gets into him at the second level, he’s going to struggle to get off blocks due to his lack of size and length and will have to give ground to get back in on the play.
With his experience as a defensive back, Williams has played a lot in coverage. In college, he had three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown and another which he returned to the two-yard line.
When he can keep everything in front of him, Williams does a good job of limiting yardage in the passing game and he has good range when isolated in space, along with closing speed to recover.
He was fooled on a double move for this downfield completion and there were a few occasions where he got beaten on a wheel route because he took an over-aggressive angle, so that’s something he needs to be wary of doing.
Williams did also record a pass defensed when he batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage during preseason.
Williams is a big hitter. His college highlights are littered with plays where he stopped a runner in his tracks or knocked him back with a big hit. Of course, that’s a double-edged sword because it can lead to a lot of missed tackles.
Missed tackles were his main issue in 2019 and they didn’t just come on plays where he went for a big hit and failed to wrap up. He can also overrun plays due to taking aggressive angles or being unable to break down in space and can be susceptible to cutbacks.
Despite being a big hitter, Williams has only been credited with one forced fumble in his pro and college career and that was on a play where the ball carrier fell on the ball anyway.
As a defensive back, Williams didn’t get many chances to blitz in college, although he did have one sack. He hasn’t blitzed too often at the NFL level either, although his skill set would suggest he might be quite effective at it.
In regular season action, he’s had a handful of pressures, mostly coming unblocked on blitzes up the middle, but no hits and no sacks. On this play, he had to go the long way around and ended up getting hit with a roughing the passer penalty for an unnecessary late hit on the quarterback.
As noted, Williams came into the league with a reputation as a big hitter and he’s displayed this at the pro level too.
In terms of fighting to get off blocks, he’ll battle hard but his lack of size and length can be detrimental.
With his athletic ability and skill-set, you’d think Williams would be ideally suited to a special teams role, but the Jaguars barely used him on special teams in his rookie year, perhaps because he was starting on defense.
He played more on special teams last year, rushing kicks and contributing as a blocker and in coverage. He was in on a couple of tackles, including one where the return man fumbled.
This may be an area the Jets see as one where Williams could grow into a useful contributor even though he hasn’t had much of an impact yet.
Williams cites his work ethic and leadership as two of his best traits and is regarded as having good character and toughness.
His on-field discipline has generally been good. That roughing the passer penalty was his only one at the NFL level so far.
Injuries have disrupted Williams’ career so far. This began before he had even played a game as he missed the 2019 preseason with a torn meniscus, although he was able to recover in time to start the opener.
Later that year, he missed two games with a hamstring injury and then was placed on injured reserve with a few games to go due to a hand injury.
In 2020, he started off the year on injured reserve as he had to have core muscle surgery (which usually means a sports hernia). He was a healthy scratch a few times later in the year.
The Jets have already shown their eagerness to find small, athletic linebackers to play within their system, so Williams should fit well into that approach. However, as noted, he might also have been brought in to help contribute on special teams.
Williams has an obvious connection to the Jets in that his younger brother is star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. That should help him to feel comfortable with his new teammates.
He’s also been a teammate of Keelan Cole and recent practice squad addition Jarrod Wilson while with the Jaguars.
The Jets are desperate for linebacker depth now that Jamien Sherwood and Blake Cashman have joined Jarrad Davis on the injured list, so Williams fits that need in the short term. He’s played on special teams and has experience of starting so can fill in at a pinch. Although he was inactive on Sunday, they will probably need him for week two’s game.
Over the course of the season, if either of the rookies finds it hard to adjust to the speed of the pro game as Williams himself did in 2019, then he could be called upon to get some defensive reps. However, the signing of a more proven veteran in BJ Goodson may make this unnecessary.
Williams is athletic and still adjusting to this level so may not yet have reached his full potential. It’s pretty clear he was over-drafted by the Jaguars, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful contributor with the Jets, especially if he can become a more efficient tackler.