The New York Jets landed the best player in this year’s NFL Draft in USC defensive end Leonard Williams and they were able to do so without moving up from the sixth overall pick.
Williams, the dominant pass rusher out of USC and largely considered to be the best player in the draft, fell to the Jets at No. 6 as team’s filled needs and did not go with the best player on the draft board. With quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota taking the top two slots, the rest of the top five selections fell favorably for the Jets who upgraded an already stout defensive line that includes Mohammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson.
“It was a big surprise to me, knowing that when I got to the Jets, I thought they were going to go for someone on offense or something like that because the Jets were already known for having a great d-line,” Williams said on a conference call with the media following his selection.
“I was really surprised but also really excited to be part of a great tradition and a great d-line.”
In their new first round pick, the Jets have a defensive lineman who will need to do some bulking up but has plenty of promise and potential. He projected as an interior lineman in a 4-3 scheme but he likely will play off the edge in head coach Todd Bowles 3-4.
He has difficulty with his leverage and sometimes struggles against the double-team, wanting to rely on finesse rather than using power to occupy multiple blockers. But he has long arms and range and is considered the best athlete among any defensive lineman in this draft.
Williams said that Bowles told him before the draft that if he fell to them with the sixth pick they would take him.
“Really playing a 3-4, I’m going to be a defensive end in that type of scheme and I think it’s really cool that I’m coming to a d-line that is pretty young but they’re veterans and pros at what they do. I think it’s really cool to be coming in as a young guy and as a rookie and to have so many great d-lineman to model my game after,” Williams said.
“I really don’t know where I’m going to fit in exactly but I’ll leave it up to the coaches when I get there.”