Jonah Williams should be comfortable playing in Atlanta already. Hell, Alabama has won there recently about as much as the hometown Falcons. With increasing speculation that Jawaan Taylor from Florida is climbing draft boards, while Jonah Williams is falling on them, the possibility of Williams returning to the stadium in which he has had so much success – the Mercedes-Benz dome – is becoming more likely. What seemed impossible only months ago is growing more and more conceivable by the day: Williams to the Falcons.
Williams, originally an Atlanta native, went to high school in Folsom, CA, and picked the Crimson Tide. He was, as a high school prospect, what he turned out to be as a college player – An effort run blocker and a high-level pass blocker who utilizes leverage, hand position, proper steps, and balance to dig out defenders and keep his pocket clean.
The single concern surrounding Williams, and the reason for his slide on draft boards, is his length. There are legitimate questions about Williams being long enough to handle NFL pass rushers. Williams, listed at 6’5 305lbs, is projected by some to bump into guard at the next level. While some teams may view that as an issue, the Falcons should see his versatility as a plus given that they have needs at both the guard and tackle position. And while guard may be more appropriate due to his size, it doesn’t allow him to maximize his best attributes.
Williams is a proficient run blocker, but his bread and butter is the pass set. He’s an admitted studier of Joe Thomas and seems to have gleaned bits and pieces of Thomas’s game, implementing them much to his opponents’ dismay. Williams has mirrored Thomas’s highly effective but often criticized, shot putters stance. This allows him to remain upright and agile while gaining depth quickly and setting the width of the pocket. His high-low hand placement is another tool he uses to fight off defenders in the pass. This hand placement pairs particularly well with his shot putters kick; he gains depth quickly and can strike effectively into the chest of longer, lengthier defenders stopping their momentum, zeroing out their length advantage and thwarting their pursuit of the passer.
Despite these mounting concerns about Williams’ length, they don’t seem to materialize in his tape. Williams has an ample amount of quality tape against NFL edge defenders. Alabama, over Williams’ career, has played Clemson (3), Auburn (3), LSU (3), Texas A&M (3), Georgia (2), Florida State (1), Oklahoma (1) and Southern California (1). He has seen no shortage of next level pass rushers, and even so, has earned All-American acclaim and been the anchor on a Joe Moore award-winning line.
Although I don’t think it probable, seeing as teams like the Bills and Jets have franchise quarterbacks and need help along the front, Dimitroff if given the chance to draft Williams shouldn’t flinch. The Falcons capitalizing on a draft day slide or finding a way to trade up and pull Williams would be an enormous win. With Josh Allen from Kentucky climbing boards, and likely to bolster his stock further at the combine, he could become too much for the Jets to pass up at No. 3, especially if they see Williams as a guard. This is the single most talented defensive draft I have seen, and that could move teams to employ the old Ozzie Newsome mantra – best player available. If that perfect storm hits, the Falcons could walk away with a franchise player along the front line, Jonah Williams.