With its second pick in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens selected Tim Williams, an outside linebacker from general manager Ozzie Newsome’s alma mater, Alabama. For most of the draft process, Williams was regarded as a first round talent, who would likely slide due to off the field concerns, including a misdemeanor gun charge and multiple failed drug tests. However, in the third round, Williams’ talent was too great for the Ravens to pass up, thus the decision to draft the former Crimson Tide defender.
In this next edition of my film study series, I will analyze the good and the bad of Tim Williams’ skill set.
Explosive off the line
One of Williams’ top traits is how he jumps out of his stance and streaks off the line, in other words, how explosive he is coming off of the snap. This first set of plays will showcase that pass rushing trait.
The first play I chose shows Williams against Florida in the 2015 SEC Championship game. When the ball is snapped, Williams bursts off the line, and continues with his great speed around the edge. Because of how quickly Williams came off the line, the Florida offensive tackle is completely unable to keep up with him. With little opposition, Williams bears down on Gators’ quarterback Treon Harris. Harris tries to evade Williams, but he is too late. Williams is able to easily wrap up Harris and bring him down for a sack.
All of this happens so quickly in the above play, because Williams is so explosive, that there truly is nothing that Harris could have done to avoid him.
The below play shows one of Williams’ two sacks against Texas A&M in 2016, a play that is very similar to the one above. Just like he did against Florida, Williams bursts out of his stance incredibly quickly. The offensive tackle here is able to do a little more than the Florida tackle did, but Williams still is able to fly towards the quarterback. Again, Williams is closes in on the quarterback and gets the sack, and again, this all happens so quickly that the quarterback has no escape.
If Williams doesn’t choose to burst around the edge, he can utilize his inside move, a move that can be absolutely devastating.
In the same game as shown before against Texas A&M, Williams shows off his inside move. Williams originally starts moving toward the edge, but quickly chooses to shift inside. Using a quick, but decisive, hand move, Williams swings inside of the tackle, and forces his way through the guard that comes to help. Once free, Williams turns on the jets to close down on Aggies’ quarterback Trevor Knight.
Against Tennessee, Williams is able to use his inside move relying more on his footwork than his hands. As opposed to against Texas A&M where Williams used somewhat of a swim move to push himself inside, Williams’ quick feet get the job done against the Volunteers. Williams again starts by going outside, but uses his fast feet to get on the inside of the tackle. The tackle is unable to handle Williams’ change of direction, and is left helpless as Williams takes down Josh Dobbs (something he may get more chances to do in the future with Dobbs appearing to be the heir to Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh).
Williams takes a different approach to the inside move to get to LSU quarterback Danny Etling. Williams uses his strength to quickly push the offensive tackle out his way, and cut inside in order to shake himself off of the block. He then motors toward the quarterback. Like he does in the above plays, Williams makes sure to close speedily, hit the quarterback, and get him to the ground.
Another one of Williams excellent pass rushing move is his spin move. Williams uses this move not just to beat the offensive tackle, but he also uses it to shed blocks, a skill some of the other draft picks that I have analyzed have struggled with.
Williams uses the spin to shed a block in the below play against Texas A&M in 2015. Williams comes off of the edge, but the offensive tackle does well to contain him and keep him out of the pocket. But when Williams sees the quarterback move up in the pocket, he uses a spin move to break off of the block from the tackle, and bring down the quarterback for a sack.
Next is probably my favorite play of any of the clips, even though it didn’t result in a sack. Williams unleashes an absolutely dirty spin move against Michigan State in the 2015 Cotton Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinals. Williams’ spin move is so good here, that it makes the Spartan offensive tackle fall to ground, giving Williams a free line to Connor Cook. Cook is able to just get the ball off, and get an intentional grounding penalty in the process, but Williams shows how dominant his spin move can be on this play.
Finally, I have picked out Williams’ spin against Auburn in 2016. As opposed to some of the above plays where Williams uses a spin move to shed a block, the spin is used here to beat the blocker at the first contact. Williams does that to perfection, making the whole play look easy. Williams spins past the Auburn tackle, and gets all the way to Jeremy Johnson. Johnson is just barely able to keep his arm moving forward when Williams hits him in order to have the throw be ruled an incompletion instead of a fumble, but similar to the Michigan State play, Williams’ spin move can be overwhelming, and allows him to put intense pressure on the quarterback.
Now moving on to the weaknesses:
Run Defense and Coverage
Yes, these are two pretty big weaknesses. This basically encompasses everything else that Williams would have to do outside of pass rushing. And I don’t have any film clips for these two phases of his game. Why? Because there really isn’t much film of Williams defending the run, and I can’t recall seeing him drop into coverage at all.
Many of the broadcasters during Williams’ games describe him as a pass rushing specialist. This is a description that is dead on, because Williams did not have much of a role outside of the pass rush. That’s why there isn’t much film of him defending the run, he rarely did it.
If we know anything about Alabama head coach Nick Saban it’s that he knows how to best use his players. Being that he rarely used Williams in run defense or coverage, it implies to me that Williams has difficulties in this area.
In the few and far between clips of Williams playing the run, he occasionally made a tackle, but only if the run was right at him. If the run was not directly at him, Williams showed minimal to no effort to make a play on the ball carrier, even if it was still to his side of the field.
The only time I recall seeing him drop into coverage was just into the flat over the middle of the field, directly in front of the center. Williams didn’t have to be there for long because there was a quick throw on that play, nowhere near Williams direction. I have no idea if Williams has the capability to cover a tight end, like Tyus Bowser showed on film that he could, because he never did it.
At this point, Williams does not look to be an every down player. Early in his career, Williams will serve the same role he did in college, as a pass rushing specialist. Hopefully, he is able to stay out of trouble off the field, and develop into a more well rounded player on it. Williams will be fun to watch purely as a pass rusher, but he will need to become more than a pass rushing specialist if he hopes to increase his playing time, and enter himself into the competition to be Terrell Suggs’ heir.