Career Recap: While Charlie Strong's tenure at Texas didn't rack up the wins that the program had hoped for, Strong did start the rebuilding process of recruiting good talent to the Longhorns after the program's decline under former head coach Mack Brown. Along with players like Malik Jefferson, Strong landed a first-day standout in Williams. The talented freshman broke into the starting lineup at left tackle in 2015, putting together an impressive debut for the Longhorns.
Williams then had a superb 2016 season. In pass protection, Texas claims he gave up only one sack all year and only received two penalties. Williams was an excellent blind-side protector for quarterback Shane Buechele. Williams was also part of a line that did a great job of opening holes for running back D'Onta Foreman, who was the nation's leading rusher and won the Doak Walker Award given to the nation's best back. Obviously, Foreman could not have accomplished that without good blocking up front, and Williams was the Longhorns' top blocker.
2017 Season Outlook: There are some talented edge rushers on the Longhorns' 2017 schedule, so Williams will be tested by players who are prospects to play on Sundays. In Week 3, Texas takes on USC and edge defender Porter Gustin, who could be an early round prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft. Against rival Oklahoma, Williams will be needed to limit edge rusher Ogbonna Okoronkwo, who had nine sacks last year. The toughest test of the season could come against Kansas edge rusher Dorance Armstrong Jr. Some see Armstrong as one of the top edge defenders for the 2018 NFL Draft, with some projecting him as being a high first-round pick. One general manager told me this summer that Armstrong is a stud defender for the next level.
Skill-Set Summary: In the passing driven NFL, having a rock solid left tackle to protect the quarterback is a necessity for any successful aerial offense. While defenses move their pass-rushers around, having the cornerstone blocker of a standout left tackle makes the rest of the offensive line's job easier, with double-team help being an option for other blockers. Edge protectors are always in demand, and Williams should be a left tackle candidate for the 2018 NFL Draft, assuming he enters the 2018 NFL Draft.
In pass protection, Williams is a good athlete with quickness on the edge. He has length with long arms and height to make it hard for edge rushers to get around him. Williams has quick feet, balance, and gets depth in his kick slide to neutralize edge rushers. Even though he wasn't overly powerful last year, he showed a nice ability to sustain his blocks in pass protection. Williams kept a lock on the defenders to prevent second-effort sacks or give up sacks after initially having his man blocked. Williams has quick feet and is nimble on the edge. He is a real asset to help negate speed rushers and protect the blind side for his quarterback.
As a run blocker, Williams has been excellent at using his quickness to fire to the second level to hit blocks to spring backs for some long runs. Williams uses his athleticism to hit blocks in space and was superb at hitting blocks on linebackers to create lanes for Foreman. At the point of attack, Williams needed to get stronger to pack more of a punch and push defenders off the ball. A lack of strength was one of the only missing pieces from Williams' skill set. He is said to have dealt with that leading up to his junior year, with reports indicating 12 more pounds of muscle and his weight reaching 315 pounds. It will be interesting to see if Williams has more power to knock defensive linemen out of their gaps this year, and if that hsa happened, it could send his draft stock soaring.
Williams looks like a future starting left tackle in the NFL with the potential to be a top-20 prospect.
2018 NFL Draft Expectations: If Williams pass protects as well as he did last year with improved strength as a run blocker, he should be safe as a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.