Alabama edge rusher Tim Williams has been one of the top senior talents in college football for the 2017 NFL Draft throughout the 2016 season. Williams was a potent pass rushing weapon for the Crimson Tide, as he totaled almost 20 sacks in two years while not even playing a full-time role. In the scouting community Williams is a consensus first-round talent, however team sources believe that Williams could easily slip to the second day of the draft. The reason for that is many failed drug tests, and some team sources have said that Williams substance abuse issues are very serious in the realm of Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory.
Gregory was one of the top physical talents for the 2015 NFL Draft, but he fell to the second round because of drug problems and repeated failed tests. Sources say that Williams' issues with marijuana are comparable to Gregory. Three different team contacts all said Williams problems were similar in their severity to Gregory. In late September, Williams had an arrest for carrying a pistol without a permit. Alabama suspended him for the first half of the game against Kentucky as a result, but he was fortunate to avoid other suspensions, as sources say he failed many drug tests. That leads teams to have concerns that he will land repeated suspensions in the NFL like Gregory.
Also hurting Williams' chances of going on Thursday night is there are a number of edge rusher candidates to consider in the back half of the first round and into the second round. Players like Stanford's Solomon Thomas, Missouri's Charles Harris, Illinois' Dawuane Smoot, Michigan's Taco Charlton, Florida State's Demarcus Walker, and Wisconsin's T.J. Watt. Teams have other options to strengthen their edge rush without taking a risk on a player with serious off-the-field concerns like Williams. Numerous teams said they would not take Williams in the first round because of the suspension concern, and they would consider Williams on the second day of the draft. As a result, a lot of team sources believe Williams could slip to Round 2 like Gregory.
Deshaun Watson just beat Alabama in the national championship. in the weeks prior to the game, Walt and I surveyed teams around the league to see where their initial draft grades were for Watson. Two playoff teams told me they had third-round grades on Watson. One said it was on the low end as a third- to fourth-rounder. A high-ranking personnel man on a playoff team told Walt that they had a third-round grade on Watson. Two other teams said they had second-round grades on Watson. Another team thought that Watson still could be a late first-round quarterback, similar to Teddy Bridgewater, because of the dire need at the position across the NFL.
In this draft analyst's opinion, I would grade Watson as a third-round pick for the 2017 NFL Draft. Watson has been off with his accuracy this year, displaying poor ball placement, especially when going downfield. He has missed a lot of potential touchdowns as a result. Watson's performance against Louisville confirmed the accuracy and ball-placement problems we've seen all season. He hasn't dominated, and his play is not that of a top quarterback prospect. All of this illustrates that Watson still has room for improvement with his field vision, ball placement, and accuracy. He did finish the regular season playing better, but that doesn't make up for the struggles in the first two-thirds of the season.
It's worth noting that Watson is undersized compared to your average NFL starting quarterback. On top of that, he plays in a college spread offense that doesn't correlate well to the NFL. Thus, he's going to need to learn working under center and operating the huddle; he must improve footwork, and not being a running quarterback. There is no doubt that Watson has great intangibles as a hard worker with good character off the field and leadership in the locker room.
Prior to the championship, Watson completed 67 percent of his passes for 4,173 yards with 38 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He has eight rushing touchdowns as well.
Since being a star recruit, Auburn edge rusher Carl Lawson has gotten a ton of hype. Lawson's college career was hampered by injuries for a few years before he had his best season as a junior. Some in the media have projected Lawson as a first-round pick, including ESPN, as their draft expert, Todd McShay, has Lawson rated 27th overall for the 2017 NFL Draft. WalterFootball.com reached out to survey NFL teams, and we've discovered that they are grading Lawson much lower. In surveying five teams, none of them had a first-round grade on Lawson.
Each team source independently described Lawson as being a very stiff pass-rusher with serious medical red flags in his draft report. Four teams said they had a third/fourth-round grade on Lawson. One said they could see a team taking him a little higher than that. Although one playoff general manager said he had a sixth-round grade on Lawson, he was planning on watching Lawson some more.
In his final season, Lawson had only 30 tackles, but did record nine sacks. The medical evaluation at the NFL Scouting Combine is going to be critical for Lawson. Each team said they had major concerns for his medical report and some thought there was the possibility that their medical staff could flunk him. In 2015, a serious hip injury cost him seven games. That was after he missed the entire 2014 season after ACL surgery. While the media has hyped him as a first-round, Lawson having a slide in the 2017 NFL Draft is definitely possible.
@Black&Gold Problem is that you see Eli and Cobi as solid backups. Truth is that Eli is number 2 and Cobi is our number 3. They aren't backups, but starters. So what you're saying is that we have no true number 2, but see no need in drafting a receiver? What D line depth are you thinking? DE or NT? Have you seen what LT Walton has done? Remember he's only in his second year.
@Steelr Fan 3:16 Coates was supposed to be plan B at number 2 with the uncertainty of Bryant. You make the case that he's a one trick pony and not a 50 catch per season wide-out, so does that scream out as a option for number 2? What gives you hope about Green? I hope he does end up staying on the field, but so far in his career he hasn't be able to do that. I like James, but if he goes down you trust Grimble? He can't block, and hasn't been reliable in the pass game. He did mess his ribs up with a nice touchdown reception a few weeks ago. That still doesn't mean he can pick up and be an impact if James would not be able to go. We have 7 picks in this draft. The first I hope goes OLB. We are good at CB with Burnes and @[email protected] will be challenged hopefully by Golson. Loser of the battle would be a good slot corner. Golson lacks length so they may throw him in the slot role anyways. LT Walton has been more than solid at DE. If Heyward or Tuitt can't go a few weeks during the season then I have faith in LT to get the job done. I like Chickillo and Moates at OLB. They have started and played solid. Williams and Dirty Red at backup ILB is good depth that any team would love. Safety we have Golden and Dangerfield. Both have started any didn't miss a beat. Offensive line? Yeah, we're good there. You say we're good at tight end and WR, so with or final 6 picks we're going what exactly? A RB would be nice with Williams age. A backup that won't see the field unless God forbid Bell gets hurt is a wasted pick anywhere in the top 4 rounds. Maybe 5th would be suffice. That's 2 picks gone and 5 to go. A backup QB of the future would be nice. Four to go. A special teamed lol? Warren, Boswell, and Berry are really good.
Mock I have been developing in various iterations. Did a trade, and was drafting based on data I've gathered via watching college games, NFL games, reading mock drafts, and my own internal evaluations. Please, feedback is always welcome.