Leonard Williams   DE/DT   USC


Leonard is a big athletic defensive lineman who shows on film good feet and those long arms that give players a significant advantage over their opponents. He shows good effort on every play and is a vocal leader for his team. Leonard has the athletic talent and size to play multiple positions in any style of defensive front. He has the quick feet and balance along with solid change of direction skills needed to play on the inside or outside as a pass rusher or run stuffer. He has the football intelligence, the burst to the ball and the foot speed to run plays down from behind. He has the skills and knows the techniques needed to stuff the run and handle the double team. Leonard has the athletic talent, size, foot quickness and long arms to be a monster defensive lineman for the team that selects him.

Right now Leonard is not in football shape, which explains why he has a lot of nagging injuries. He plays through injuries and thatís commendable, but itís also an excuse for him not to reach his potential. He struggles shedding blocks and making tackles in the hole. He also struggles, coming off the line and finishing plays. He settles for being doubled teamed and letting others make tackles. He is slow off the line but does change the line of scrimmage to his advantage on almost every play except when he is double teamed. He engages off the line scrimmage and then stops his play to focus on what is happening in the backfield to react instead of making his opponents react to him. Right now most of his sacks are coverage sacks. He will make some plays, but does not control the line of scrimmage the way you would expect a player with his athletic ability to control.

When I look at any defensive lineman I look first to see how well they play against the run, then I look for the athletic talent to rush the passer. When I see both skills and talent along with size and quickness, I get excited. When I see a player with all of this type talent that doesnít dominate, I look to see if the reason for that lack of domination is because of the system in which that player is playing. In this case, I see that Leonard plays in mostly a 2- gap system that sometimes makes it look like a player is not a dominant player when in reality they are. Leonard changes the line of scrimmage then holds his man and waits for the QB to either throw the ball, move out of the pocket or hold on to the ball to make a play. Maybe thatís what the Trojans want him to do. But the truth is he should be dominating and forcing players to make mistakes and reacting to what he can do, not the other way around. With his athletic talent, Leonard should be dominating and he is not doing that consistently at the college level. Leonard is a boom or bust player who will shine in all of his workouts and could be considered a top player in this draft. The question is, will Leonard be chronically injured because of a lack of work ethic to get into better football shape? Does Leonard really want to be a dominating defensive lineman for the team that selects him? These are the Boom or Bust questions.

Drew Boylhart