Summary: The Alabama defense has featured a ton of NFL talent in recent years, and Williams was one of the program's most freaky athletes. He also has been the Crimson Tide's most natural pass-rusher as his blinding speed off the edge made him a lethal third-down weapon for their defense. After the tough front seven put offenses in many third-and-long situations, Williams would come into the game and often helped get his defense off the field with a sack or a pressure that ruined third down for the offense. Williams could be a highly impactful pass-rusher in the NFL.
Even though Williams wasn't a starter in 2015, he had a breakout season for the Crimson Tide. Alabama used him as a situational pass-rusher, and he recorded 10.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss and 19 tackles in that role. Williams came on really strong to help the Crimson Tide win a National Championship.
In 2016, Williams totaled nine sacks, 16 tackles for a loss, 31 tackles, two forced fumbles and a pass batted. He put a lot of pressure on the quarterback and really stepped up with some big games against Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State. Williams was very consistent on the season in generating a pass rush and producing steady heat on the quarterback.
For the NFL, Williams is a dangerous edge rusher with elite speed off the edge. He is explosive off the ball and often is on to his second step while blockers and other defenders are still getting out of their stances. Williams closes on quarterbacks in an instant and has the ability to slap away blockers' hands while working upfield. Williams could use more work on his pass-rushing moves, but there is no doubt that he could provide a serious impact as a pass-rusher for his pro team.
Williams is not a tough run defender, and at least early in his NFL career, he will probably be a DPR - designated pass-rusher. If Williams plays in a 4-3 defense, he will probably stay in that role for his entire career. In a 3-4, he could see the field more as an outside linebacker.
While Williams is a first-round talent, he probably will slip to the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft. WalterFootball.com was first to report last fall that Williams had failed many drug tests at Alabama - thank you to the Washington Post for correctly citing this. Multiple team sources have said their teams won't consider Williams in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. They say the severity of his substance-abuse issues are similar to Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory, who was one of the most talented players for the 2015 NFL Draft, yet slipped to the second round. Gregory has had repeated suspensions in the NFL, and teams are worried that Williams could face a similar issue. Many teams are skeptical that Williams can avoid drug use. He also had an arrest for carrying a pistol without a permit.
Williams could fit in the NFL as a 3-4 outside linebacker or be a designated pass-rushing defensive end in a 4-3 defense. Given his off-the-field issues, he could end up being a second-day pick.
Player Comparison: Leonard Little. Williams' game reminds me of Little. In his career with the Rams, Little was never much of a run defender, but he provided a big impact as a quarterback hunter with 87.5 sacks in 147 career games. Little (6-3, 255) and Williams have a similar build. Little was selected at the top of the third round, and Williams could go in the same range.
NFL Matches: New York Jets, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Washington, Detroit, Miami, Kansas City, Carolina, Atlanta and Philadelphia
There are a lot of potential fits for Williams on the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Jets could use an edge rusher, but that seems unlikely considering the kind of character players who Mike Maccagnan has drafted.
Cincinnati could be a fit. The organization needs to upgrade its pass rush as Michael Johnson is a limited player, but Johnson could play run downs. The Bengals also have taken chances on players with character issues in the past.
The Saints have to upgrade their defense and improve their pass rush. They need an edge rusher across from Cam Jordan. However, it sounds like their preference is to add a pass-rusher in Round 1 with secondary help to follow. If New Orleans waits on a pass-rusher, Williams could have an appeal as he could help the team's vulnerable defense immediately.
Staying in the NFC South, Carolina could use an understudy to Julius Peppers. Atlanta had been avoiding players with character concerns for many years, but that has changed some in recent years as Jalen Collins had the same issues as Williams coming out of LSU, yet the Falcons took Collins in Round 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Indianapolis needs help all over its defense, and Williams would be an instant upgrade to the team's pass rush. John Simon and Jabaal Sheard are more complementary pass-rushers, while Williams could give the Colts a lead dog.
The Ravens need more pass rush after cutting Elvis Dumervil. Williams would make sense for them as Ozzie Newsome has drafted a lot of Alabama players and has taken some chances on players with character concerns.
The Redskins want to get younger and more athletic up front. Williams could be in consideration for Washington on Day 2.
Among the playoff teams, Williams has a few options. The Lions could use defensive line help. Williams could upgrade their edge rush across from Ziggy Ansah. Miami could use a young defensive end because the organization cut Mario Williams and has an aging Cameron Wake.