Everyone knows the weaknesses the Buffalo Bills had on the offensive line in 2018. During the course of free agency, the team addressed that need by signing a multitude of players. However, the team can still decide to pick one of the best lineman in the draft available at number nine if they wish to do so. Alabama’s Jonah Williams is considered one of the best in this year’s draft. We spoke to Erik Evans from Roll Bama Roll for a scouting report on Williams since he closely watched him during his playing career.
What are his strengths?
How do you sing higher praises about Jonah Williams than the ones that ESPN’s Cole Cubelic has consistently showered upon him?
“I think he’s possibly the best tackle in college football right now,” Cubelic told the Montgomery Advertiser. “I mean, he’s up there, man. … He does a lot of different things well. He obviously has the physical gifts, and that’s helped, but at the same time he understands technique, fundamentals, hand placement, footwork, all that. A lot of guys that have his kind of talent get away from that, or don’t put enough emphasis on that, and that’s not his game. The combination of ability along with focus on fundamentals is what makes him elite.”
Cubelic is a former all-SEC offensive tackle and was speaking of Jonah Williams in his third game after moving to the left side. This followed an All-American campaign where he played out of position and was still regarded as one of the best right tackles in the game.
But, what Cole didn’t really emphasize, is just how nasty Jonah is once he gets his mitts on a defender. That was more apparent in his freshman season, where he was tasked more with run-blocking to that side. He has a great motor in that regard, eliminating his opponent and turning upfield to put his hat on another guy.
There was some knock on his arm length at the Combine; but like Williams said—watch the film. And that really is the best rejoinder. Between his technique, explosion off the ball, and his footwork, any perceived deficit of an inch or two on his arms is just that: perception. He simply does not allow sacks. For a lither tackle, he has plenty of strength -- 26 reps at the combine. But, what I think we’re going to miss the most about Williams is the mental part of his game. He’s such a disciplined player, and it shows not just in his positioning, but in that he very rarely drew a flag. He is absolutely the most polished lineman Nick Saban has produced in his dozen years at Alabama, and that’s not faint praise, considering over a dozen have been drafted to-date. More tellingly, you knew from his first game he was going to be that special too.
What are his weaknesses?
I do want to point out another possible concern that may not have appeared at the combine or in his interviews, one that only came to light recently. Quickly: Alabama signed a massive recruiting haul of freakish offensive linemen the previous two classes. When Williams was asked to slide inside to help develop some of those younger players—Alex Leatherwood and Jedrick Wills, he not only balked, but reportedly even threatened to transfer. I understand the move would have affected his draft status going into this past season, but it is not often you get that sort of—Do I call it selfishness? Me-first? Assholishness?—that sort of behavior in a tackle prospect.
If it his true, then combined with his prickly nature, Williams may not be the natural leader you’d otherwise expect from so talented a player at such a crucial position.
The Bills signed six players on the line so far in free agency but two of those play center which would not affect the team if they picked Jonah. He would fit just fine if the Bills added him and would immediately be competing for a starting job in training camp.