What to expect from Jets’ Leonard Williams in 2015

Why Jets' first-round pick projects as much more of a run-stopper than a pass-rusher.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

(AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

What to expect from Jets’ Leonard Williams in 2015

New York Jets first-round pick Leonard Williams notched the first two sacks of his preseason career Friday night against the Falcons, while knocking down the quarterback one other time. The defensive lineman also managed to make an impact in the running game, getting in on an impressive tackle for a 4-yard loss as he destroyed Atlanta guard Chris Chester right off the line.

That’s the type of stout play against the run we expect from Williams in his rookie year, as he posted the fourth-best grade in that department among interior defensive linemen in college football last season (92.6).

However, as a pass-rusher, the box score doesn’t tell the entire story. Fans may see the two sacks and a hit and think it was a dominant performance, but as always, the nature of the sacks is more important than the number itself.

Both times, the Falcons failed to block Williams, first allowing a free run that led to a safety, then completely blowing the assignment on the stunt as Williams twisted inside to pick up his second easy sack of the night. Even the hit was more of the clean-up variety, as Williams got to QB Matt Ryan after 3.2 seconds in the pocket.

Overall, it was a solid night for Williams, but don’t let the box score lead us into thinking it was an exceptional pass-rushing effort. We still expect Williams to be far more effective as a run defender in the NFL than as a pass-rusher.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Shizzle Dawg

    “Destroying” Chris Chester isn’t that impressive. Week 6 will be interesting if Leonard Williams lines up against Brandon Scherff

    • Tim Edell

      Well considering how Scherff looked the other night I think he will have his hands full with Leonard Williams.

      • Shizzle Dawg

        We talkin bout practice

  • Andrew Gunter

    Thank you. NYC Media, @SportsCenter, @ESPN, and @NFL were blowing this kid up like he was the second coming of Suh. It wasn’t like he fought through a double team to get the quarterback. I do think we he will be a good player, but let’s not get carried away when he isn’t touched by the 2nd & 3rd string o-linemen or picked up by the RB. Williams admitted as much with his comment after the game, “I know preseason doesn’t really count, and also it was like a wide-open. I think it was a missed assignment on their part.”

  • EndZoneBlog

    The guy is an animal. http://www.endzoneblog.com