Texas Tech DE Brandon Williams (Getty Images)
As the 2009 NFL Draft approaches, the editorial staff at Buffalo Rumblings will continue profiling draft prospects that may end up being potential targets of the Buffalo Bills. We're back on the defensive side of the ball this morning, profiling Texas Tech DE Brandon Williams.
I'm sure some of you are asking the simple question: "Who?" As most of you know, we've discussed the need for the Bills to address their pass rush ad nauseam since the end of the season. I know I could talk about it all day, and I'm sure many of you would feel the same way. After all the first and second round prospects we've been talking about, there are some hidden gems waiting to be found in the middle rounds. One of those diamonds in the rough could end up being Brandon Williams from Texas Tech.
Williams is a player that we have yet to look at or even discuss around these parts. In order to give my fellow Rumblers an introduction to this potential sleeper, I will be assisted by Seth C, the fearless leader of SB Nation's Texas Tech blog, Double-T Nation. Enjoy everything you ever wanted to know about Brandon Williams, but were too afraid to ask.
Brandon Williams - Defensive End, Texas Tech
6'3", 261 pounds, 4.80-second 40 yard dash
Strengths: Good quickness at the snap... Good balance and flexibility to get under the tackle and close... Good straight line speed... Athletic frame with ability to add some extra weight... Strong at initial contact and has shown ability to shed blocks... Does well in pursuit... Average to above average arm length... Extremely athletic... Pretty productive in college... Hard hitter... Plays with an attitude... Good upside.
What did Seth C have to say about Williams' strengths?
Buffalo Rumblings: What are his strengths? Are speed/athleticism his forte, and if so, does he rely on that to make plays alone? Does he have any pass rush moves?
Seth C: Absolutely, speed is perhaps Williams best trait; that seems to be his biggest advantage on less athletic offensive tackles. One of the reasons why Williams had such a successful season this year was because Texas Tech has a similar pass rushing end, McKinner Dixon, and for the first time in Williams' career, he didn't see as many double-teams as he had during his sophomore season. Again, speed is Williams' biggest attribute. He does have a good spin move, but power is not the name of his game.
Weaknesses: A bit of a 'tweener... Average size, bulk... Not particularly strong against the run... Might be a one trick pony... Stiff... A bit of an arm tackler... Burst is good, but not great... Might be better as a 3-4 OLB.
BR: How well does he play against the run?
Seth C: Williams is okay against the run, but I wouldn't say that it's a strength. Talk to a Texas Tech fan and they'll tell you that most teams were pretty successful running right up the middle against the Red Raiders.
BR: What are his weakness and where should he really concentrate on improving?
Seth C: Like a lot of players, he tends to disappear during stretches of the game, but he made plenty of big plays during the course of the season. Maybe Williams' biggest problem is that he's strictly a speed guy and he's not big enough to play full time at defensive end, and he's not ready to play outside linebacker either. He's a guy that can do one thing really well, but isn't ready to do other things quite yet.
Much more on Williams and commentary from Seth C after the jump.
Other tidbits from our interview with Seth C:
BR: Why did he go pro early?
Seth C: There are still people questioning why Williams left early. He seems like a good kid, from a good family, so I don't think there are any emergency family issues that motivated him to come out early. I'm convinced that Williams would have been on numerous All-American teams after next season, probably improving his draft stock and working on his game as a collegian.
After looking around for Williams info, I am also surprised he turned pro early. He had the potential to be a pre-season All-American and a member of all the watch lists for the major awards. He could have really improved his stock and been a better prospect next year. I guess he just didn't want to be a student athlete any longer. It happens.
BR: Is Brandon Williams ready to contribute to an NFL team right away? The Bills need a pass rush threat immediately; would he help in 2009? Is he more of a project - a guy that needs some time to grow?
Seth C: Being the homer, I would love to tell you that I think he's ready to compete immediately, but I just don't think that's the case. He's a little bit shorter than what he was listed as at Texas Tech and he was already on the smaller side at 245-250 pounds for a defensive end. I see Williams as strictly an edge guy right now, being really good as a speed rusher, but will probably struggle in the professional ranks because he lacks the requisite strength to play all three downs as a defensive end.
BR: He looks pretty skinny on the field, so he will definitely have to put on some weight/muscle, but does he look capable of playing at a higher weight? Do you see him being able to bulk up to 260-270 and remain effective?
Seth C: Keep in mind that when Williams was recruited, he was a 2-star defensive end and relatively lightly recruited before signing with Texas Tech. He was a project coming into Texas Tech, which I think bodes well for any team drafting Williams. I don't think he's reached his potential and he's still growing as a player. I would be hesitant to put too much weight on Williams and personally, I see him possibly being a better fit at linebacker rather than defensive end.
BR: I have seen him listed as a potential third round pick, at best, by most scouting sites. Where do you think he'll land? Why does a guy who had 13 sacks out of the Big 12 and having pretty good size not project higher?
Seth C: I don't follow the draft as closely as many folks so it's hard for me to know if he's a third round pick or if some of his liabilities means that he should go a little lower. I think teams bite on Williams' potential more than anything else because he has the athleticism to excel at the next level, it's just a matter of the right team determining whether or not he's a defensive end and putting weight on him or working on Williams' flexibility and learning the position of linebacker.
Does he fit the Bill?
Yes and no (how political of me). In a perfect world, Williams would be able to come in and play a role as a situational pass rusher. I'm not convinced he's capable of that quite yet. I think he's going to need some time to get stronger, acclimate himself to the pro game, and just improve his all-around game before he is able to have an impact. He's an underrated prospect, one that has the potential to be a good pro, but would be better served as a second pass-rushing addition for the Bills. That way he wouldn't need to be thrown into the fire right away. Unfortunately, I don't think there's enough room on the roster for a project at DE unless we trim some fat.
Other Scouting Reports and Rankings
Mocking the Draft (#10 ranked DE)
NFL Draft Countdown (#14 ranked DE, mid-rounder)
CDS Draft (Round 3 projection)
NFL Draft Scout (#12 ranked DE, Round 4-5 projection)
ESPN Insider (#13 ranked DE, Round 4 round projection)
ESPN Insider: Mid-round Defensive End sleeper