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What are the Jaguars getting in Quincy Williams?

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I’ll be doing comprehensive scouting reports on each of the Jacksonville Jaguars draft selections from now up until OTAs.

Last week, I spotlighted Kentucky defensive end and linebacker Josh Allen, Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, and San Jose State tight end Josh Oliver.

In this installment, I break down rookie linebacker Quincy Williams.

Background and character

Quincy Williams was the Birmingham Athletic Partnership Defensive Player of the Year as a senior playing for head coach Ronald Cheatham at Wenonah High School where he also earned an Alabama state high jump championship in 2013 with a 6’4” mark. Williams was also a Junior Olympics freestyle swimmer growing up before he switched over to football.

Williams was barely recruited out of high school mainly due to poor academics, but his coach at Murray State, Mitch Stewart (who was an assistant coach heavily involved in recruiting at the time) had to pound the table and convince the staff that Williams deserved to be a Racer and originally schemed to recruit him as a running back at the time. From that point, Williams developed into being one of the most feared defensive playmakers in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Also, Williams’ mother passed away from breast cancer in 2010 and he has shared that this has been the biggest adversity he has ever overcome in his life as he had to take over and help raise his younger siblings.

Williams is the older brother of New York Jets 2019 third overall pick Quinnen Williams and is adamant he can beat his little-big brother in a wrestling match with a solid choke hold.

A former public relations major, Williams has stated that he would be working in sales were it not for playing football. He’s listed leadership and work ethic as his two best traits and enjoys hiking in his spare time.

Physical traits and production

Physically, Quincy Williams is shorter than the average linebacker with solid girth and thickness (plays at around 15-20 pounds heavier than Telvin Smith despite Telvin being about five inches taller). Although he’s listed at 239 pounds on the Racers’ website, Williams has said he has never weighed that much “a day in his life” and feels comfortable around 230-235 pounds. Seeing him in person, Williams obviously does not shirk the gym room and has a developed physique and explosive lower body that affords him very good change of direction ability and sudden violence as a striker. Aesthetically, Williams profiles quite similarly to former Panthers and Saints linebacker Sam Mills.

A combine snub, Quincy Williams has no information to pull for a Mockdraftable web. He also has no pro day times leading up to the draft with his only exposure to the draft process being his selection to the NFLPA Bowl in California. Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell has stated that Williams runs a 4.51 forty, 39.5” vertical jump, 10’4” broad jump.

In terms of production, Williams was ubiquitous in four years at Murray State, totaling 231 tackles (18 for loss), six pass breakups, three interceptions and three forced fumbles in 43 career games (27 starts). His 7.1 solo tackles per game ranked second in the NCAA and his 10.1 tackles per game ranked 13 in 2019.

Player report

Williams was utilized mainly as the weak side linebacker in the Murray State’s hybrid defense and his school mascot (The Racers) could not have been more apropos than for a player of Williams’ play style. Williams also has experience playing at safety and as a dime linebacker and routinely will line up over the slot receiver when he is not removed in specialty packages.

For starters, I came away extremely impressed with Williams’ ability to K&D (key and diagnose) plays from depth. Williams pairs his quick recognition with a sudden first step that allows him to accelerate to full speed extremely quickly (I would love to see his 10-yard split time). This physical traits checks out with his packed in lower body and explosive thighs and hamstrings, likely a result of his high jump and swimming experience.

If you watched Williams’ highlight film, it may be one of the most exciting three minutes of football you will ever watch. Williams’ greatest attribute is his striking ability. Not only does Williams strike his opponents like a cobra to consistently eliminate all inertia on contact, but he routinely imposes his will as a hitter. Forget the tackle below, just watch the receiver’s body language as he tries to get up from the hit.

There’s a reason his YouTube highlights are just three-plus minutes of bone jarring hits. It feels like he’s legitimately making every other play with eye-popping contact every time he’s on the field when you pop on the All-22.

Dead on arrival.

Williams isn’t just a hammer, either. We saw Jonathan Cyprien occasionally be able to bury bodies when he could line his pursuit up correctly, but Williams frequently takes proper angles in his pursuit and also shows great technique when wrapping in open space with a sound tackling plan depending on his arrival.

Here he is coming around the C gap unblocked to shut down the run play in the back field.

Williams does have a few plays where he gets caught up in the phone booth against shifty runners like the one below...

However, he’ll bounce back on the very next play with an across the field effort marrying outstanding pursuit angles and foot speed to stifle a broken run that likely ends up in a touchdown if not for Williams’ effort.

Williams also did an exceptional job of running through blocks and beating his assignment to fill his gaps. Williams will have a much tougher time with this approach against offensive linemen with NFL-caliber size and will need to work with his position coach to develop some finesse moves to try and circumvent blockers with speed in addition to power.

Telvin Smith has proclaimed himself as one of the fastest linebackers in the NFL. Williams may not be quite as fast when it comes to timed linear speed as Telvin, but his ability to move at 230+ pounds vs. Telvin’s 210-215 pounds is just as impressive. Williams is a space suffocator who reaches his destination extremely quickly and can run step for step with receivers in coverage. However, as naturally as Williams stays in-phase with receivers, his natural lack of length shows up just as frequently.

In the clip below, Williams does great with running with his assignment, but just doesn’t have the height and arm length to make a play on the football despite doing everything else close to perfectly.

The bad news about this is that ball placement and accuracy only gets more precise as you move up from the Ohio Valley Conference to the NFL. This issue also manifested in an OTA practice this week when Logan Cooke couldn’t handle a snap during extra point special teams drills and was forced to scramble around and throw a wobbler to guard K.C. McDermott. Williams was on the coverage and should have easily made the play on the pass but simply mistimed his jump and got mossed by an offensive lineman. Williams certainly runs a risk of consistently getting exposed in situations when he has to cover 6’5”+ tight ends in the NFL this year, and that is really my chief hesitation with him.

Overall, Mitch Stewart summed Quincy Williams up pretty perfectly when he described him as a guy who bends opponents’ facemasks. No matter how much momentum they can generate, runners are usually dead on arrival when Williams gets to them. I do have concerns about Williams’ length in coverage, but he is the ultimate “run and hit” linebacker who could excel even more as a 4-3 WILL in the Jaguars’ scheme where he won’t be split out wide so often before the snap.

Projection

Social media was ablaze when the Jaguars selected Quincy Williams in the third round of the draft. The selection stumped the NFL Network truck, Daniel Jeremiah (who has been among whisper as a potential candidate for the New York Jets general manager position) did not have him among the 400 players he scouted, and The Athletic’s Arif Hasan did not have Williams among the list of 730 players on various big boards he compiled.

Williams has safety movement skills in a linebacker’s body and is a perfect WILL linebacker in today’s NFL. The kid hits like a truck and runs like a deer, and if the game of football was purely contingent on physical tangibles, Williams would be a pristine prospect. However, it’s the instincts in the passing game and coverage tactics that Williams will need to shore up to be a starting caliber weak side linebacker in the NFL.

There’s no doubt that the ideal progression path for Williams was to start him out as a special teams maven and develop him into a potential cheap replacement for Telvin Smith down the line when Telvin’s contract was no longer viable. But with the hiatus of Telvin Smith, Williams will be drinking out of a fire hose in order to earn a week one starting role next to Myles Jack and the Jaguars may need to accelerate his learning curve and get him ready as quickly as possible. With Williams already taking some snaps with the ones next to Myles in OTAs thus far, this is obviously the Jaguars “Plan A” when it comes to approaching the starting LB corps for 2019.

With Myles Jack on deck for a contract extension and Telvin’s future in doubt, Quincy Williams on a third year rookie deal for the next four years is something that must be extremely attractive to the Jaguars front office. He hasn’t looked at all overwhelmed or out of place so far through four OTA practices I’ve attended, and for a guy who won’t really raise eyebrows until the pads come on and he can hit.

That’s a good thing.