The possible (not so) big surprise pick? Scouting Dan Williams DT Tennessee
By Zoltan Paksa
[Editor note: Zoltan strikes again and he believes he is closer to striking at the heart of Gene Smith]
So, since the last time I did a scout report, the Jaguars signed 2-time Pro Bowler DE Aaron Kampman which means most likely Gene Smith doesn’t need to hurry and draft a defensive end with the 10th pick. Meanwhile he said that this draft is loaded with talent on the defensive line, especially at tackle. I did a report on UCLA DT Brian Price but we concluded he might be a little bit of a reach at 10. (If the Jaguars can trade down then he and Mike Iupati; the guard from Idaho- are possible options than at 10). But I have a (maybe not so) secret candiate for the 10th pick: Tennessee DT Dan Williams.
Now you might said “no way he is more of a 3-4 nose tackle; then a 4-3 DT”. Well isn’t that what was thought of Terrance Knighton; last year’s 3rd round pick? He played well in the 4-3 (and until the experiment ended. the 3-4 too). Plus there is another factor coming to play here. Gene has a philosophy: “Get the big guys early”. Add to that the “The Jaguars ain’t done with the rebuilding of both lines!” part and now you have to believe guys like Dan Williams are being strongly considered. And one more possible clue: On the March 3rd, 2010 edition of “Jaguars This Week” Jaguars.com senior editor said right now Dan Williams has the best shot to become the next 1st round pick of the Jaguars. Well now we have 3 good reasons to look at this player.
Williams is a 6:2 327 lbs senior, a big DT from Tennessee; sound familiar? The Jaguars own big man John Henderson was a Vols product and Albert Haynesworth was as well. Both have pretty impressive NFL careers under their belt. Dan Williams ran 5. 17 40-time at the combine which is 0.2 slower then Suh and McCoy but it’s ok because he is heavier than those two top DT by 20 and 30 pounds!
He was selected All-State by Associated Press and Tennessee sportswriters in 2004 in his final high school year. The defensive tackle redshirted in Knoxville in 2005 and has been close to a full-time starter in 2006. He played 6 games in that year; recorded 1 tackle; and 1 sack. Williams played in every game from 2007 through 2009. In his sophomore year he played all 14 games and started 10 of them. He recorded 40 tackles, 19 solo; and 6.5 TFLs. He had 2 sacks as well. Vol fans will forever remember Williams’ 2007 season for the game saving blocked field goal in the incredible four-overtime win over Kentucky, a moment that Vol fans voted as the best play of the season!
He played all 12 games in his junior year; but he started only 9 of them. He had 48 tackles; included 23 solo; and 8.5 TFLs. Recorded 1.5 sacks…He played and started all 13 games in his senior year. He had a breakout season in 2009. He recorded 62 tackles; 13 TFLs; and 2 sacks. He was named Second Team All-SEC by the league’s coaches in 2009.
He has an excellent combination of size, strength and athleticism for an interior defender. He plays with great pad level and a natural base to anchor effectively versus the run. He is a powerful bull-rusher who can collapse the pocket in the passing game. [Terry’s take: !!! Hello and welcome to Jacksonville !!!] Williams is a true force against the run. Even if he is constantly double teamed he is capable to still making an impact on tackles. He is covering a lot of ground from his nose tackle spot and gets moving in the right direction off the bat. Reads blocks and gets himself in position to make the tackle or alter the running lane. His tackling is improved in this area since his earlier years. Someone who had over sixty tackles from the nose tackle position is a huge achievement. When in position, he completely swallows the ball carrier with his arms and does not let them escape. Strong tackler. He is very athletic on his position: which is perhaps the most surprising part of his game. Chases well sideline to sideline, makes a lot of tackles outside the box. Does not adjust well to the late cut block, can get heavy feet in the trenches. Most likely he is capable to play 0 or 1 techniques; which means -although he is more of a 3-4 NT- can play 4-3 DT as well. [Terry’s take: and what is not to love here?]
Now let’s see his weaknesses. 6 sacks in 45 games telling you; that he will be not much help on the pass rush. [Terry’s take: What? You said he was!!] The hustle off the snap is not always there, seems to tire easily. Sometimes in the second half you can see a decline in his performance. Does not always give a solid effort and takes play off; which is unacceptable in the NFL. [Terry’s take: Except if you are from Tennessee and are named Big Hen or Albert I guess] His coaches in Tennessee (Lane Kiffin in particular) did a very good job motivating him and there is some worry about he will maintain his level of play on the field and in practice once he gets paid. He has shown not much significant moves other then the bull rush; but that is maybe not a big problem at a DT/NT. [Terry’s take: Motivation? You want motivation? How about Joe Cullen beating him with a stick]
So what will the team who’ll draft Williams get? An excellent run blocker DT; who is absolutely ready for the NFL. He should send a “Thank you” card to our Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton (and maybe Gene Smith too). Because of Knighton success as DT (who was and maybe still is considered more of a NT) not just 3-4 teams may take a look on him; but 4-3 teams -such as the Jaguars- as well. If he is that good (by good; I mean elite) on stopping the run; then I think he is a candidate at 10. If Gene Smith will pull the trigger on him; it means (ironically) that most likely John Henderson’s (another former Volunteer) days are numbered in Jacksonville. He might be on the trading block immediately. If that happens¿ the jaguars have all of sudden a very young core of guys at the defensive line -with the exception of newest Jaguar Aaron Kampman.
Bottom line about Williams – he will be a surprise pick for a lot of people who don’t know Gene and his draft philosophy; but completely makes sense. I would draft him rather any of those 3 defensive end I made a scout report recently. And would I pick against Joe Haden or Rolando McClain if they are still available? Now that is the big question. Despite Haden’s slow 40 time; and McClain didn’t performed at the combine and he recently revealed that he has suffering from Crohm’s disease (Jaguars QB David Garrard is battleing with that; but has no or little effect on his play so far) I still would like to see them as the Jaguars selection at 10; but if Gene Smith; head coach Jack Del Rio and the defensive coaching staff approve to selecting him; I’ll have no problem with the pick.
[Terry’s take: I think the defensive tackle spot is so rich this season, the Jaguars almost have to move in this direction. I would bet in the first 50 picks, ten defensive tackles are taken, they are that good. It means if Gene wants one, he has to move early. Zoltan is right, Dan Williams is a fantastic pick at this spot. I don’t think Big Hen is gone however. He can take a few series off and we can rotate fresh DT into the game. The selection of Dan Williams is ok with us and we will move him into our draft board candidate. Good job Zoltan, another wonderful piece of work]