Last week, it was reported that the Jets had agreed to sign former Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Al Woods. Today, we break down Woods in detail.
The 36-year old Woods is listed at 6’3” and 330 pounds and was a fourth round pick out of LSU in 2010. In his 13-year career, Woods has played for several different teams, and never for more than three seasons in a row. However, he’s started 78 games at the NFL level, including 30 over the past two seasons. He has 293 tackles and nine sacks in his career.
Woods was one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the country as a five-star recruit out of high school. He headed to LSU where he had four tackles and half a sack in six games as a freshman.
In his sophomore year, Woods had 22 tackles and two sacks in 12 games, making his first career start. However, his junior year was disappointing as he had just 11 tackles and no sacks in 10 games, starting two.
Woods showed up in better shape for his senior year and started all 13 games. He had a career-high 33 tackles, along with two passes defensed and a sack, then entered the 2010 draft where he was drafted in the fourth round by the Saints.
As a rookie, Woods was released in final cuts by the Saints and then landed on the Steelers practice squad, but he would make his NFL debut with the Bucs after they poached him in the middle of the season. He ended his rookie year with 17 tackles in nine games.
He returned with the Bucs in 2011, but was released in final cuts again. Seattle claimed him on waivers and he played twice for them but then they cut him and he ended up back with the Steelers.
In 2012, Woods played in 12 games with the Steelers but didn’t see much action on defense and only recorded three tackles all year. However, he returned with them in 2013 and made the first two starts of his career. He played in every game and had 16 tackles and two sacks.
Woods’ career stabilized over the next three years, as he signed a long term deal with the Titans, starting 17 games with them and registering 66 tackles and nine tackles for loss between 2014 and 2016.
After being released ahead of his fourth year in Tennessee, Woods found a home with the Colts. He started every game in 2017 and had 44 tackles and a sack but his production dropped off in 2018 as he only started eight times.
Woods spent the 2019 season back in Seattle, starting five games and recording 32 tackles and two fumble recoveries. However, he missed four games late in the season due to a suspension.
After signing for the Jaguars in 2020, Woods opted out due to the Covid-19 pandemic and then re-signed with Seattle once again. Over the last two seasons, he played some of the best football of his career as he started 30 times and had 89 tackles and 3.5 sacks and made his first ever postseason appearance.
The Jets reportedly signed Woods last week after Seattle GM John Schneider admitted that cash and cap were the reasons for Woods’ March release.
Now let’s take a look at what Woods brings to the table, divided into categories.
Woods is listed at 330 pounds, but honestly looks to be even bigger than that. He also has long arms and big hands.
He was only 309 when he attended the scouting combine back in 2010 where he ran 5.15 in the 40-yard dash, posted an extremely impressive 37-inch vertical and also posted good agility numbers for his size. He later ran sub-5.0 at his pro day and then also managed 23 bench press reps. Of course this was a long time ago and he is considerably heavier now.
While he was at LSU, Woods lost 15 pounds before his senior year to transform himself from someone who wasn’t on many draft radars to a projected mid-round pick.
Woods has played a lot of snaps as a nose tackle over the years, but has lined up all over, including outside the tackle box. In the past couple of years, he was only over or shading the center about half of the time, so even though the Jets don’t often employ a traditional nose tackle, he is still capable of playing any required role.
Woods works hard getting downhill or upfield and doesn’t give up on plays when he has initially been blocked out of the action.
Although he’s never been a full-time player, Woods can handle a starter’s workload, as he showed in 2021 by playing 650 snaps, including 60 in one game.
There are times where he can show signs of fatigue and these are the only times you generally see him driven back off the line. A rotational role with the Jets could therefore be an ideal situation for both team and player.
While regarded as more of a run stopper, Woods has improved his pressure percentages in recent seasons and seen more action in those situations as a result.
As you’d expect, he generates most of his production by driving his man back and collapsing the pocket.
While he’s never had more than two sacks in a season at the NFL or college level, Woods had just 3.5 sacks in his first seven seasons but has five in the last five.
Woods is a solid run defender who is capable of holding his ground in the trenches even when double-teamed.
His strength enables him to throw off or shed blockers and he has the power to penetrate and bottle up runs in short yardage situations.
He’s not just an inside space-stuffer though, as he showcases the athleticism to move laterally or pursue downhill.
In 2021, Seattle - in large part thanks to Woods - were tied for second best in the league with a 3.8 opponents’ yard per carry average, but they dropped off in 2022 and allowed their opponents to average 4.9 yards per carry which was the sixth worst in the league. According to a recent article from ESPN’s Rich Cimini, they only allowed 4.4 yard per carry with Woods in the game, though.
Woods does a good job of holding his ground in the trenches, as he has a solid anchor and good balance. He shows good technique here by engaging the blocker but maintaining outside leverage by freeing up his outside arm to make the play.
As a pass rusher, he doesn’t particularly have an arsenal of moves, but you can see on this play how effective he as at using his length to keep the offensive lineman off him.
Woods has mostly just contributed on special teams by rushing kicks, but has also operated as a blocker on the placekicking unit and even featured on the kick return unit earlier on in his career when it was more common for teams to use a big lineman to set up a wedge.
He has applied pressure on kicks at times, including once in college where his blocked field goal was returned for a touchdown by Patrick Peterson.
Woods has four special teams penalties in his career.
Woods wasn’t a particularly productive tackler earlier on in his career, but he had 44 in 2017 and 50 in 2021. He also had 39 last season despite missing three games.
While he’s often just bottling up runs, he does a good job of wrapping up tacklers, even when he has to stretch beyond his frame. He is also good at squaring up running backs so he can stop them cold and prevent them from driving for yards after contact.
Missed tackles haven’t been a major issue for Woods, who only averages about two per year in his career.
Woods has yet to be credited with a forced fumble in his professional or collegiate career though.
Woods will drop back off the line into a shallow zone once in a while, but he’s not someone you’d put into a coverage matchup. He’s given up a few first downs in coverage but these were all on screen passes where he was just the nearest defensive player to the receiver.
Wood has batted down several passes at the line in his career with most of these coming in recent years.
While there are occasional plays where Woods might tackle the wrong player on a read option play or get fooled by misdirection, his eye discipline is generally good and he keeps his head up and reacts well.
Here’s a play where Woods finds himself in position to react and blow up this screen pass for a big loss.
In his career, Woods has been offside or called for encroachment on nine separate occasions.
Woods is another experienced leader being added to this team. The respect his teammates and staff had for him in Seattle was obvious because they named him as their defensive captain for 2022. He has a big, fun personality and is an extremely popular teammate.
He doesn’t have a completely clean history off the field, as he was suspended for four games under the performance enhancing drugs policy in 2019. On the field, he hasn’t typically had a high penalty count, but he does have four personal fouls in his career, including two for unnecessary roughness and a facemask penalty for which he was fined.
Woods has been pretty durable over the past decade, playing in 12 or more games in each season since 2011, other than in 2020 when he opted out. So far, he has never been placed on injured reserve.
He missed a couple of games in 2022 due to an Achilles injury, four in 2016 due to a calf injury and two in 2015 with a high ankle sprain. He also missed the last game of the 2021 season after he was placed on the Covid-19 reserve list.
The Jets haven’t really had a player like Woods during the Robert Saleh era, so it may mean they’re going to change up the way they rotate their interior linemen going forwards. Woods will be best employed on running downs, which complements the addition of his former teammate Quinton Jefferson, who is a good pass rusher but inconsistent against the run. The pair could potentially be platooned with Solomon Thomas also seeing action in both situations.
As noted, the Jets don’t really employ a pure nose very often, but Woods has lined up in other spots along the line so he can still be a good fit, while also perhaps giving the option to go to a different look with him at the nose.
Saleh was on the Seattle coaching staff during Woods’ first stint with the Seahawks and, other than Jefferson, he’s also been teammates with current Jets DJ Reed, Duane Brown, Cedric Ogbuehi, Quincy Williams and Thomas Morstead.
The Jets needed to add a couple of interior defensive linemen and Woods and Jefferson are probably as good as could have been expected at this stage of the offseason.
Woods has been a very good run stuffer whose game has gone to another level in his thirties. Bobby Wagner told the media he should have been a pro bowler in 2021, and although it’s fair to note that he wasn’t as effective in 2022, hopefully he still has something left in the tank.
In a rotational role with some situational work in short yardage downs, Woods could be an effective addition to the defensive tackle group and his experience and leadership should also be a positive for this team.