According to one NFL scout, the New York Jets got the best player in the NFL Draft on Thursday night and they did so without having to move up from their sixth pick in the first round.
Leonard Williams, the freakish athlete and arguably the best pass rusher in this draft, was seen by many outsiders and some insiders as the top player in the draft. It was a shock to most as Williams, an All-PAC 12 selection at USC, fall in the draft, from outside the top three where he was seen as a lock to all the way to sixth overall.
And even though the Jets have two star defensive ends in Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson, what Williams brings to the table was just way too good to pass up.
“He fell because of needs. Oakland needed a receiver, they needed to give [quarterback] Derek Carr help, Jacksonville needed a pass rusher and they got that. Brandon Scherff is an interesting one, a damn fine player and the best tackle in the draft. He's a good fit for Washington,” the scout told Metro New York. The scout spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to publicly contact on personnel.
“I was shocked they took Williams but not shocked at the same time. That defensive line, that's a defensive coach, that's a dangerous combo. He's going to fit in perfectly out there. Great spot for him to land. He's not there because of his skills or concerns. Other teams went need. He was the best player available and I think, the best player in this draft.”
As for weaknesses to his game, there are some that were bantered about on Thursday night. He disappears at some points in games and doesn't lack the big size to bump inside in a 3-4 scheme. He also had a shoulder injury that affected him and he carries into the NFL.
“I definitely don't see him playing inside,” the scout said.
“I felt he lacked upper body strength. I think he's going to have a tough time shedding blockers at this level. He's going to have to get some power, it's not all lower body. The No. 1 issue is that strength, his chest strength. You saw that as an issue at times in college.
“That shoulder stuff is a little scary, we all knew about it and his injury. That is one of those things that stood out. It affected his bench press numbers at the combine.”
But the scout cautioned that the shoulder injury isn't a reason for Williams to drop that low. There are just too many things that stick out on tape to not fall in love with his potential. Especially with Wilkerson in his final year of his rookie contract, the Jets have a potential bookend to Richardson for the foreseeable future.
“You name, he's powerful at the point, first step. If Muhammad Wilkerson leaves, you won't be disappointed. He may have been the best player in the draft,” the scout said.
“It's hard to compare him to anyone, he is his own man. He's so powerful in the torso, maybe not the chest but the torso. He's going to be a great player. The Jets got a real good one.”