Why the Slide?: Tim Williams

By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Three years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. A year later, we started the Why Slide? series, and this year, it is back. Feel free to email me requests for “Why the Slide?” and “Why Undrafted?” at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely respond.

Alabama’s Tim Williams was one of the best pure pass-rushers in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he proved that over his final two seasons as a dynamic edge rusher for the Crimson Tide. Williams racked up nearly 20 sacks in only a part-time role. He showcased elite speed off the edge with natural pass-rushing skills. Going from a running conference to the passing-driven NFL, Williams looked like he could be a lead pass-rusher for his future pro team. Despite his great skill set and impressive production, Williams slid to the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Last fall, WalterFootball.com was first to report that Williams had failed many drug tests at Alabama – thank you to the Washington Post for correctly citing this. Multiple team sources said because of the off-the-field and character concerns their teams wouldn’t consider Williams until the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft. Some teams felt 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 can’t stay on the field because of suspensions. Teams were worried that Williams could face a similar issue, and some were skeptical that Williams can avoid using drugs. Thus, Williams was viewed as too risky to go in the first couple of rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft.

For weeks prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, I had the Baltimore Ravens taking Williams, and in my final mock draft, I stuck with it as sources told me they thought the Ravens were comfortable to take Williams. That was proven true as the Ravens drafted Williams in the third round. That was a great landing spot for him as Baltimore needs young edge rushers to play immediately after cutting Elvis Dumervil this offseason. Williams will compete with Tyus Bowser and Kamalei Correa for playing time across from Suggs, but Williams is the most physically gifted of that trio and could be the most NFL-ready. The Ravens are also a good landing spot with a respected veteran in Terrell Suggs, who could mentor Williams if he is willing to listen and reform his habits. If Williams can avoid trouble and getting suspended, it wouldn’t surprise me if he becomes an impactful pass-rusher for the Ravens and one of the steals of the 2017 NFL Draft.

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