Walt, you need to put Texas LT Connor Williams on this list. Dude is going to be one of the best LT's in this class. He'll be a JR this year, but former TE with outstanding movement and pass blocking skills. Dude is a stud and Freshman All-American. First time in a while I've been excited for our Offensive line.
Williams saw his first action as a redshirt freshman in 2009 and, though primarily a backup, ended up starting three games. He had three receptions for 25 yards.
Heading into the 2010 season, Williams competed for, and won, the starting tight end job. He was not given many receiving opportunities, but he did an excellent job as a blocker for running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Williams caught eight passes for 100 yards and a touchdown as a sophomore.
The junior had a strong season in 2011, even though he didn't get a lot of attention. His strength was doing a lot of the dirty work for the future National Champions. Williams was an excellent blocker in the ground game and was a big contributor to Alabama averaging 219.8 yards per game on the ground. Richardson had a massive season with the great blocking from his offensive line and tight ends.
Williams had 16 receptions for 191 yards and two scores last year. The Crimson Tide primarily used Brad Smelley as its receiving tight end.
2012 Season Outlook:
With Smelley moving on to the NFL, Williams should see more opportunities this season. Alabama runs a ground-based offense, so he will never see a huge amount of targets.
However with Richardson in the NFL, the Crimson Tide could easily have to throw the ball more often in 2012. Junior quarterback A.J. McCarron is entering his second season as the starter and his fourth year at Alabama. The Crimson Tide coaching staff should trust McCarron at this point to open up the offense more than in 2011.
Williams is a better receiver than his numbers indicate. With Richardson and Smelley out of the program, the senior should have more opportunities to prove that this year.
The bread and butter of Williams' game is his run blocking. He is extremely strong at the point of attack. Williams uses his big body to matchup well against defensive ends, and there are rarely ends who can match his power.
Williams' size allows him to be more effective than the vast majority of tight ends in the ground game. He also has the athleticism to get out in front and hit blocks on linebackers and safeties. The senior is the complete package as a run blocker.
Alabama has really coached Williams well in blocking technique. He has good form to engage defenders and sustain his blocks. If Williams was heavier, he could be an option as an offensive lineman.
Williams is quicker and more athletic than people realize for the passing game. He can get open running routes and has the potential to be a good red-zone weapon. Williams doesn't project to ever being a prolific pass-receiving tight end in the NFL, but he could be a decent contributor as part of a tight end stable.
Even though he doesn't have big production as a receiver, NFL tight end coaches and offensive coordinators are going to like what they see of Williams. Every team in the NFL is looking for blocking tight ends that can play in the base offense along with short yardage situations. Williams projects to being an excellent blocking tight end for the next level. He also has special teams skills to contribute on fourth downs as part of return units.
2013 Draft Expectations:
Williams enters his senior season as a third-day pick. That is where the majority of blocking tight ends get drafted. If Alabama allows the senior to contribute as a receiver, his stock could rise into second-day consideration.