Since Nick Saban has been the head coach at Alabama, the Tide have almost annually had quality offensive linemen in the NFL draft. Next spring will be no different if junior OT Jonah Williams declares, as he would be one of the better blockers available.
Williams is a true third-year junior this year, his third as a starter for Alabama. As a freshman in 2016, he started at right tackle. Last season, he was moved to left tackle and started every game.
Coming out of high school, Williams was rated as a 5-star recruit by all the major recruiting services and chose Alabama after being offered by most of the top programs in the country. He graduated from high school in December 2015, then enrolled early at Alabama one month later.
Williams has good but not dominating size. He is listed as being 6-foot-5 and 301 pounds, and while he is easily 301, I doubt he is quite 6-5. Williams does not have a prototypical long tackle frame but more of an even-cut build. On tape, he looks to have average arm length for a tackle. Williams shows very good overall athleticism for a lineman. He is light on his feet, runs well, bends and changes direction. Williams also plays a physical game and has very good upper- and lower-body strength. He consistently looks to finish every block.
Williams is best as a run blocker. He shows very good initial quickness and snap reaction, getting to his block quickly. With his strength, he is explosive on contact and can get movement with his run blocks on a consistent basis. Because of his athleticism, he easily gets to linebackers and makes productive second-level blocks. When asked to pull, Williams shows speed and the ability to easily adjust on the move to a moving target.
In pass protection, Williams usually plays from a 2-point stance. He sets quickly and always takes good angles with his sets. He has a strong punch with very good hand use for a young player, consistently keeping his hands inside.
Williams knows how to get and keep good position when pass blocking most of the time. He shows good bend and can anchor vs. power. Williams can have some trouble when he is up against long-armed opponents. As I stated above, he looks to have average arm length. In both the Clemson and Georgia games, he loses leverage because he lacks the arm length to control his opponent. This is not something that will go away. Either a player has long arms or he doesn’t. When he gets to the NFL, he is going to be playing against long-armed guys almost weekly, which is why I feel he might be better off moving inside to guard at the next level.
An NFL offensive tackle has to be able to win the leverage game, and if he doesn’t have the physical traits required, he is better off inside. I believe that an NFL club can get by with Williams at tackle, but he can be a dominant guard — maybe even a Pro Bowl-caliber performer. I am not discounting Williams' talent, but if moved inside, he has a better chance to succeed at a high level.
Williams has to play the entire 2018 season — we still have a long way to go before the draft — but he's someone I'll be watching closely this fall. Regardless of what position he plays at the next level, Williams will be drafted high. As we saw this year, NFL clubs aren’t afraid of taking inside players with premium picks.