Ever since the NFL has slowly moved to a majority of teams using the 3-4 Defense, players that played Defensive End in college have smoothly made the transition from a three point stance to standing up as an Outside Linebacker. In fact, the Colts have a guy in Jerry Hughes who everyone thought would make that transition to a 3-4, but ended up in the Tampa 2. One guy who is hoping to make that transition, and make it well, is Trevardo Williams of Connecticut.
Williams, a native of Jamaica, was extremely productive at UConn, playing in 50 total games, starting 30 of those games at DE. He accumulated 134 tackles in his career, 30.5 sacks to go with 40.5 tackles for loss, and forced five fumbles, a mighty good resume. Most of his production came in his Junior and Senior seasons, where had 12.5 and 11.5 sacks respectively, and he earned First Team All-Big East Honors this past season. As you can see, he was a very successful pass rusher.
His body type makes him an obvious candidate to play OLB, and some people have said he's even a little small at this point (only 241 lbs). He clearly has the speed to get around the edge (4.57 40), so even if he puts on 15-20 pounds, that Jamaican speed will still be there. I think his biggest challenge will be being able to drop into coverage and cover RBs and TEs. He's never done it before in a game, so he'll be a bit raw in that department, but he clearly has the athletic ability to play the position.
He'd obviously be an excellent fit on the Colts, even if he couldn't start Week 1, which he probably would not be as he learned the position. He can clearly get to the QB, so he could play on passing downs and exclusively rush the passer, almost like Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney did last season. He's being projected in the 2nd/3rd round, so he'd have to drop a bit, or the Colts will have to go up to get him. With the advent of speed guys on the outside, and the history of them right here in Indianapolis, Williams would be a nice addition to the Colts Defense.
Pass rusher who lines up with his hand down and from a stand-up position, also starts on both sides of the line and inside to take advantage of slower guards. Secure tackler, brings force to his stops against unsuspecting quarterbacks on blind side hits. Times up the snap well, especially if teams aren’t changing up the count. Has the get-off necessary to attack from a wide-nine position and the flexibility to turn the corner in a hurry.
Undersized for a 4-3 defensive end at his current weight, can be engulfed by better tackles, or even tight ends. Needs to develop more power in the legs. Not violent off of contact, will be stop in his tracks if initial move fails.
Strengths: Explosive athlete with natural edge-rush ability. Extremely quick get-off to go with flexibility that makes him a consistent threat to round the edge on every play. Big-time closing burst in space. Exhibits an impressive lateral quickness when countering back to the inside from the edge. May have the best pure get-off of anyone edge rusher in this year's class. Relentless motor to the whistle.
Weaknesses: Under-sized for a traditional 3-point edge rusher, but hasn't shown a lot in terms of lining up as a traditional linebacker, either. Lacks power necessary to consistently generate any kind of bull-rush and is a pure speed rusher who has to rely heavily on his get-off to make the edge.
Compares To: Dexter Davis, OLB/DE, Seattle Seahawks - Like Davis did at Arizona State, Williams has put up some intriguing sack numbers at the college level (11.5 in '12) despite lacking the size and strength that scouts want to see in an every-down rusher at the next level. Williams gets off the ball much better than Davis did though, and should warrant a higher pick than the seventh-round selection that the Seahawks used on Davis back in '10. Interest should be strong from a 3-4 team willing to bank on the chance that Williams can be just as effective rushing from a two-point stance as he has been with his hand in the ground.
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