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Top 10 interior defensive linemen in the 2019 NFL Draft

ANALYST
Modified 27 Mar 2019, 11:28 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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#1 Quinnen Williams, Alabama

With 19.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and a boatload of disruptive plays, he was named an AP first-team All-American and finalist for a multitude of the biggest awards in college football
With 19.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and a boatload of disruptive plays, he was named an AP first-team All-American and finalist for a multitude of the biggest awards in college football

Only a third-year sophomore, Williams was kind of the unsung hero on that Alabama front early on but became undeniable over the course of this last campaign.

With 19.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and a boatload of disruptive plays, he was named an AP first-team All-American and finalist for a multitude of the biggest awards in college football- His meteoric rise has taken him from another one of those Alabama D-linemen to a consensus top three prospect in this upcoming draft.

Williams completely eats up the run game and had to deal with double-teams constantly, primarily leaning up in the A-gap. He was pretty much unblockable from the start of the 2018 season on. Williams seems to have the balance and core strength of a 350-pounder but is just around that 300 mark.

He knows how to position his body to create leverage and own the point of attack, but also has the quickness to quickly disengage and create negative plays himself. You constantly see him recognize blocking schemes and work over the top of blocks on plays that are going the opposite way and sometimes even flatten his angle to force the ball-carrier out of bounds all the way on the opposite sideline.

With how much he lined up at true nose last season, you saw him just jack up centers and drive them almost into the handoff to completely mess up the play.

At the same time, he has experience two-gapping, as he stacks up against the blockers and throws them off to reach out for the ball-carrier once that guy is in range.

This guy really put the heat on opposing quarterbacks last season. He has excellent quickness to get around blockers as well as the power to go through them in the passing game.

Williams doesn’t necessarily use a very aggressive stance on passing downs, as he puts more weight on his legs and doesn’t come off the ball very low, but that enables him to diagnose the protection scheme and almost react to the way offensive linemen use their sets and punches.

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He got a bunch of instant pressures arm-overing a guard or center and closing in on the QB, while also getting skinny through the gap by turning his pads and dipping that near-shoulder to minimize the area to grab. The monster D-tackle isn’t selfish either, freeing one of his fellow linemen on twists as the primary slanter, where he actually grabs the jersey of the blocker, who would be responsible for his teammate going over the top.

Williams simply is extremely disruptive in all facets of the game and plays with a motor that enables him to make an impact late on plays. He was just unreal at LSU, when the Tigers paid extra attention but he still wouldn’t be slowed down.

One play that stands out from that game was a sack on Jue Burrow, where Big Q used a quick swim to knock away the hands of the guard, but simultaneously used that second hand to initiate another arm-over to get by the tackle sliding over, all while flipping his hips and stepping through the space to free himself up and throw the QB to the turf.

All around this guy’s ability to link his feet and hands together is unbelievable. He is so instinctive when it comes to countering blocking schemes and he always seems to have a feel and plan for what is coming.

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Williams was the most dominant player in college football for 2018. He led all interior D-linemen in sacks (nine) and quarterback hits (16) while playing nose tackle for the most part. What he did was absurd and he earned PFF’s highest grade among all players,

If there is any critique on him, it’s that he had just one really special season, but you can’t blame him for not dominating as a redshirt freshman already.

Sometimes you see him line up inside the guard and then try to go outside the tackle on the backside of run plays, instead of just crashing in. With how high he gets on pass rush snaps, Williams’ chest is a little exposed and NFL O-linemen will take advantage of that more frequently with shots to the ribs.

I don’t think there are any limits to what this kid can do thanks to his combination of athletic traits and instincts to react for the position.

I have seen him two-gap in the Crimson Tide’s scheme, he can shoot upfield and be a penetrator, he fits any front and has the all-around game to be a three-down player who displays supreme effort for 60 minutes.

The way his upper and lower body are linked together and how he fluidly transitions into movements is Aaron Donald-esque.

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Published 27 Mar 2019, 11:28 IST
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