Leonard Williams Shakes Up Mel Kipers Big Board At NFL Combine


Just when we thought we had seen the best at the NFL Combine on Saturday afternoon with the quarterback drills in Indianapolis, the DL’s and Linebackers were featured on Sunday. Everyone knew University of Southern California DE Leonard Williams was good, but saw just how good he was during the DE/Linebacker drills.

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The 6 foot 5, 290 pound Junior even impressed ESPN Draft Expert, Mel Kiper Jr. Williams had been targeted as the second pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, going to the Tennessee Titans, but after the Combine, Kiper moved him to Number One.

Kiper said:

"As for moves below, I made a change at the top, where I now have Leonard Williams No. 1 overall. That said, the combine is obviously important for all of these guys, much of it regarding what the public won’t be able to see, and I know there will be moves to come."

Analysis: Long, powerful and versatile, Williams has been in this range going back to last year. He jolts blockers, has exceptional awareness and always finds the ball, and he disrupts regardless of where he’s lined up. Odd fronts, even fronts — it really doesn’t matter. Quick for his size, he can move all over and won’t get pushed around when he’s inside. At his size (6-foot-5, ~300 pounds), he’s a special athlete who could line up as a defensive end and drive a tackle back or on the outside shoulder of a guard and create problems with power and quickness.

In his post Sunday NFL Combine comments, ESPN Insider, Todd McShay said Williams was the best player in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Although Williams’ performance on Sunday moved him to the top of Kiper’s Big Board, the speculation is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hold tight, and draft one of the top quarterbacks. Florida State’s, Jameis Winston being the favorite, but they could fool everyone, and take the “five-technique” Defensive End instead.

If Leonard Williams falls out of the first pick, the Tennessee Titans will have a tough decision if they get some nice trade offers for the second pick from teams seeking a franchise quarterback.

Williams would join fellow Trojan, Jurell Casey in Tennessee, but likes the Oakland Raiders, who pick fourth. The Raiders, need a deep threat at Wide Receiver, and probably would not trade-up to take him. But who knows what the Raiders will do?

Leonard Williams would be a franchise player for the Tennessee Titans, and could anchor the defensive line for a decade. Tennessee Defensive Assistant Head Coach, Dick LeBeau loves versatility, and Williams can play every position on the D-Line. And plays them all well.

Williams had this to say when he met with the media on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium:

"“One of the biggest things that made me so versatile in my career is I played for three different D-line coaches while I’ve been at USC — Pete Jenkins, Ed Orgeron and Chris Wilson — and three defensive coordinators as well,” Williams said. “I’ve played in a lot of defensive schemes. With that came moving around a lot. The versatility came.”“I actually did (enjoy all the adjustments). I’ve played D-line my whole life. I’d rather move around the whole D-line than stay in one spot the whole time. It was more fun to create matchups and be able to go against some weaker opponents every once in a while and getting to the quarterback. When the coaches switched it up for me, I liked it.”"

I’ll have to admit, in an earlier post, I said, although Williams would be a great pick for the Titans, I liked Washington Nose Tackle, Danny Shelton better.

After watching Williams perform on Sunday, and catching his interview, he has moved up my board as well. Don’t get me wrong, Shelton is a great second option, but Leonard Williams is the better pick in this year’s draft.

Next: Mel Kiper 2.0: Leonard Williams To Titans