Why Jonah Williams is an NFL Offensive Tackle
Jonah Williams is one of the most polarizing Offensive Line prospects we have seen in quite some time. His career at Alabama was quite acclaimed, and he has also started 44 straight games at the Offensive Tackle position. The debate ranges on where he projects to at the next level, however Jonah Williams possesses the demeanor, footwork, and technique to overcome any physical shortcomings and be an All Pro Tackle in the first 5 years of his NFL career.
Arm Length: 33 ⅝
Hands: 10 ⅛
Career Accolades at the OT Position:
Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award finalist as a Junior in 2018.
Secured the starting RT spot as a freshman, and moved to LT as a sophomore.
All American Recognition his Sophmore Year.
A unanimous 1st Team All American by numerous outlets.
Earned the SEC Jacobs Blocking Trophy from the league coaches, presented to the conference’s top offensive lineman.
Named to the All-SEC first team by the Associated Press and league coaches ... helped open holes for the 42nd-ranked rushing offense (198.4 ypg), the No. 3 scoring offense (45.6 ppg) and the No. 6 total offense (522.0 ypg) while providing time for the nation’s No. 1 pass efficiency offense (197.34) and No. 6 passing offense (323.6 ypg).
The debate over “necessary length” to play the Tackle position is a long standing, yet unnecessary one. The NFL “threshold” for arm length at the tackle position is 34 inches, however there have been many successful NFL tackles that have broken that stereotype. For example:
Joe Thomas (32 ½)
Jake Long (32 ⅞)
Bryan Bulaga (33 ¼)
Rob Havenstein (33 ⅜)
All 4 of these names have proven to be exceptional talents at the position. They use their technique, and footwork to win there matchups. Jonah Williams is no different. He is a technician on the perimeter, and he wins by using his hands, feet, and natural tools. It is important to break down the specificities of each facet of his game, and examine how they project to the tackle position at the next level.
Footwork/Fluidity: Jonah is exceptionally explosive out of his stance. His feet during his pass sets move quickly, and he offers enough athleticism to stay in a half man relationship throughout the rep. When attempting to redirect, he can drop his hips, and stay square while striking from a stable, balanced platform. He’s light on his feet, and in space his movements are fluid and smooth. When trying to combat inside counters, he shows the ability to power step inside while staying fitted to negate any penetration. When power stepping, his feet are still aimed towards the LOS which allows Jonah to fully push his power forward into the defender. His hips are fluid, as they can drop and uncoil upon contact. His exceptional footwork projects well to being an NFL Tackle, as his ability to redirect, distribute his weight, and stay in a half man relationship throughout the rep will do him well against even the best pass rushers.
Hands/Placement/Timing: On Tape, his ability to fit in the chest plate of the defender early in the rep consistently is impressive. His strike is usually compact, with a few exceptions. When striking, he possesses a powerful punch that can stun and negate any defenders momentum. Defenders will always try to knock an Offensive Tackles hands down to try and create space, and get into there frame. However, on tape, Jonah Williams shows the ability to refit his hands into the chest of the defender and close any gap that the initial move by the defender created. His placement has improved drastically year by year. The importance of that can not be overstated. When your strike is compact and at the chest plate of the defender, that gives you the chance to fully control your opponent. When it’s wide, you can give the defender a chance to access your chest and compromise the depth of the pocket. However, when Jonah’s goes wide he offers the necessary play strength to anchor down and stop defender momentum. On run plays, his hands and feet work together. He strikes and drives his feet through the whistle while offering the upper body torsion strength to clear space at the point of attack. His ability to be a technician with his hands will help negate any questions about length at the next level.
Play Strength/Football IQ: Jonah Williams is not an overly consistent people mover at the point of attack. His ability as a technician, and power in his lower half does however create considerable knock back. His anchor is also exceptional, as he can anchor down against power by redistributing his weight and unlocking his hips to combat pocket push. He is a knee bender, not a waist bender so he has more access to lower body power. He is also a very smart football player. On End-Tackle stunts, he is exceptional at keeping his eyes up and passing off defenders to his guard. On double teams, he stays square and keeps an arm free while passing off the defender to his guard to search for further contact when it arises. In space, he has a deft feel for 2nd level defenders’ movements and can meet them to the landmark and envelop them upon contact. His play strength and IQ can help him vastly at the next level. The defenses get more complex, and his ability to understand movement, stunts, and schemes will contribute to him excelling on the perimeter.
Miscellaneous: Jonah is deliberate, and smart when it comes to angles he takes in searching for contact. When not engaged in pass pro, he is always searching for a target. He’s a cerebral football player, with good eye discipline and understanding of what is in front of him. Upon contact, he’s positioned properly with a flat back and good bend. His balance is also quite exceptional, as when negating counters his feet can become staggered during contact. However, his center of gravity is low enough and he has enough lean, to where upon contact he’s balanced and can maneuver accordingly. He’s known to be a leader, and an exceptional worker. There are 0 character concerns with him whatsoever.
Overall: Jonah Williams is not a perfect offensive line prospect, and he does have plenty of room to develop. However, the debate about whether he should move inside needs to be silenced. He has started 44 games at tackle in his Alabama career. That is the only position he is accustomed too, and he has vastly excelled at it. It would be unnecessary to make a tackle of that caliber learn all of the new nuances that the guard position offers, especially because his arms are a half inch shorter than the threshold. Being an offensive lineman, there are three things that contribute to your success (strength, IQ, and technique, which relates to hands, and feet). Jonah excelled at each facet of the game, and with some development, he could be elite. There’s a reality that needs to be faced universally. The game is getting faster, and more athletic, and he fits everywhere this league wants to go. Jonah Williams is a Left Tackle at the next level, as his technique, footwork, and IQ could make him an All Pro early in his career.
Ideal Fits: Buffalo, Carolina, Cleveland
Pick Projection: Top 20
Player Comparison: Bryan Bulaga
Scout: Nathan Papandrea