In 2014, there was an edge player who had bounced from school to school, producing at every level and at two vastly different weights throughout his college career. His tape consistently showed his unteachable physical gifts and the amount of technical skill he brought to the table. However, thanks to some angry Golden Domers perpetuating rumors and a lack of Combine participation. He ended up falling to the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
As a rookie, San Francisco 49er Aaron Lynch has had five sacks (1st among rookies through Week 15), seven QB hits (1st), and 26 hurries on the year (2nd, behind Khalil Mack), all while also playing effectively against the run. Even on a defense where Chris Borland and Dontae Johnson have jumped out as potential impact players, Lynch may well be the team's best rookie on that side of the ball and has a legitimate case to make as Defensive Rookie of the Year.
This year's Aaron Lynch may be in the middle rather than on the edge - and his name is Terry Williams.
Terry Williams, at 6 foot 1 and 350 pounds, is a converted linebacker who packed on some weight in order to switch positions. He moves forward like a wrecking ball, using his short, stout frame to generate leverage against opposing guards and centers. Williams has great short area quickness as well, and is able to jump off blocks once engaged to dart into holes, fill gaps, and plug up plays in the backfield. Williams only has 1.5 sacks on the year, but his dynamic ability is still evident as an interior disruptor on a regular basis.
Now, unfortunately there are not too many clips on Draft Breakdown that are easily gifable for Williams. However, by cherry-picking other games, there are some examples of what he can do. He is number 54 in these cuts.
Here he is with a quick dart up the middle, shutting down a run play before it even has a chance to begin.
That quick arm-over run stuff move is sort of Williams' signature. He makes that play multiple times against Virginia Tech, North Carolina, USF, and Temple. This is a move that is something that great pro run stuffers possess.
Here he is getting a sack, taking advantage of bad pocket presence and showing his value in a clear pass rush situation.
Williams definitely has some issues that he needs to clear up. While he's good at getting his hands up and attempting to bat passes on rushes, that will never be a strength of his due to his small stature. He also occasionally guesses wrong on run plays in terms of which hole he should fill, which is something that should be able to be rectified by better coaching.
Most importantly, though, Williams has some baggage; he was suspended in 2012 and in 2013 for violating team rules. Per sources connected to the team, both suspensions had to do with usage and possession of marijuana, and one of the charges was regarding intent to sell (although, from what I've heard, Williams may not have been the seller - he might have been a victim of circumstance). While marijuana is certainly illegal under most state laws at this point in time, to me, it is not a kill factor in terms of a player's stock like a more serious, more damaging crime could potentially be. This baggage, at draft time, should not be regarded as anything especially damaging. Bill Belichick has taken more troubled players than Williams under his wing in the past.
Williams has the capacity to be a rich man's Alan Branch at the next level, no small praise given Branch's value as a rotational player on the Super Bowl winning Seahawks along with his performance in Foxboro this season. He probably will end up slipping to Day 3 and go somewhere in that Round 5-6 range. However, in terms of all the DTs I've scouted, Williams currently ranks just behind Leonard Williams and about level with Florida State's Eddie Goldman. He is a player to watch throughout the next few months.
Ethan's Top 10 DTs to Date:
1. Leonard Williams, USC
2. Terry Williams, East Carolina
3. Eddie Goldman, Florida State
4. Preston Smith, Mississippi State
5. Malcom Brown, Texas
6. Gabe Wright, Auburn
7. Ray Drew, Georgia
8. Michael Bennett, Ohio State
9. Ellis McCarthy, UCLA
10. Danny Shelton, Washington