What Leonard Williams brings to the Jets

Florham Park, N.J.- An old NFL adage is that you can never have enough good football players and coming off a 4-12 season, the Jets needed an influx of good football players and in USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams, they added perhaps the best football player in the 2015 NFL Draft.

“From our standpoint, we’re tasked with trying to get as many talented players as we can in the organization, be it pro or college…and again, the more good football players you can put on the field, the more impactful they can be,” said Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan.

While the Jets have other needs like offensive line help or linebacker depth, the talent that Williams has was too good to pass up. According to Maccagnan, NFL teams can fall into the trap of drafting for need, which can end up being detrimental to a team’s success.

“I always feel teams fall into the same trap and they factor in things that have no bearing on the player being successful or not,” said Maccagnan. “So, in our mindset, that was very true to what we believe, which is if you feel a player is substantially better than the players around him, you don’t really factor in need to your decision making process.”

Williams’ six-foot-five 302-pound frame enables him to be one of if not the best against the run in the entire draft, which, according to head coach Todd Bowles, will enable Williams to be a consistent three-down player in the NFL.

“He’s a very big, athletic, explosive player when you watch him on tape. I think that sort of comes to the forefront, said Bowles of Williams. “He can be in essence a three-down player because he is big, athletic and physical versus the run.”

Williams also has great athleticism and speed that makes him a formidable pass rusher who recorded 21 sacks -- an average of seven per year in his three seasons at USC.

“He also is very quick and active and an agile player to be effective as a pass rusher,” said Bowles of Williams’ pass rushing skills.

But what might be Williams’ most valuable trait is his versatility.

“At his size, he is a special athlete,” said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. “[He] could line up as a defensive end and drive a tackle back or line up on the outside shoulder of a guard and create problems with power and quickness as well.”

Like his new teammates All-Pro Muhammad Wilkerson and 2014 Pro-Bowler Sheldon Richardson, Williams can and does line up everywhere along the line and that type versatility will allow Bowles to incorporate some 4-3 looks on defense.

“We have already incorporated some 4-3,” said Bowles. “We’re a multiplex defense. We kind of run both of them anyway. It depends on the game and depends on the team. “

What makes Williams an incredibly tantalizing prospect is that he is not only a player with a tremendous ceiling but on all accounts a player with tremendous character and attitude.

“For me, obviously his play spoke for itself, but when he got here, just meeting the young man, seeing how mature he was and how full of life he was and the great attitude he had and the passion for playing football, that kind of connected with me,” said Bowles of Williams.

As for Williams’ future, Bowles believes that while he is already an incredibly productive player, he is just scratching the surface of his potential.

“He has just a huge ceiling in terms of potential, which I would concur with just watching him,” Bowles said. “So to me, it was you’re looking at a guy that is scratching the surface of what is the player he can potentially be and that player could be a very good run down and pass rusher when you put it all together.”


Jets Insider Top Stories