Thoughts on Jesse Williams

May 2nd, 2013 | Written by Rob Staton

Seattle's first Australian...

Jesse Williams is good at what he does. It’s what he doesn’t do that limited his stock.

It’s emerged that he suffered a fall in the draft due to medical concerns. Some teams apparently didn’t include him on their board. The Seahawks believed he was worth a shot in round five — they traded up for the first time in the Carroll/Schneider era to make sure they got both Williams and Tharold Simon.

I’m not sure the fall from possible first or second round pick to round five was purely down to the medical situation. Personally, I thought he was a solid second round pick who could fall into round three. Others had him rated higher than that, perhaps a little too high.

He’s pretty one-dimensional. He’s a run stopper. You put on the tape and he’s tough to move. He anchored the Alabama run defense from the nose after switching from end. He’s all upper body power. In a 1v1 situation he really excels at holding his ground and limiting the inside run. Time and time again Alabama could rely on Williams to do his job.

But when you actually sit down to study his tape, he doesn’t do a great deal other than excel in a 1v1 situation versus the run. He gets stuck on blocks far too much which really limits his ability to get into the backfield. There are times where he shows very good footwork and hands to get away from a block, force the runner to change direction and dive into traffic. These are few and far between though. He’s occasionally disruptive but never really a difference maker. He is not a pass rusher. Not yet, anyway.

We’re not talking about a fantastic athlete here — and I don’t think Williams would necessarily mind anyone saying that. He’s a worker, a grafter. He’s more perspiration than inspiration. Just an honest, salt of the earth defensive tackle who will turn up every week and put in a shift. He has a clear mean streak and an edge to his game. Teams won’t fancy running his way. They’ll probably have to do a bit of game planning, maybe double team him from time to time. But unfortunately they’re unlikely to be too concerned about his ability to crash the pocket.

Don’t get me wrong, there are substantial positives to having a guy like this on your team. I maintain that in short yardage and goal-line situations, I want Williams on the field. It’s going to be very difficult to run inside with Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Jesse Williams lining up next to each other. Seattle’s run defense seemed to get gradually weaker as the year went on and Williams’ addition helps in a big way.

But…. he isn’t going to rush the passer. And alongside the injury issues, that’s probably why he lasted until round five. I’m guessing teams weighed up the situation. He’s one-dimensional with medical concerns over his knee. That dropped his stock. Seattle might actually be the best fit for him. They’re a team that could use some depth and strength inside, but can live with the situation if he never plays a down. He’s versatile enough to play the one, three or five technique. His attitude and personality fits like a glove.

What we might see is Jordan Hill start in base, Michael Bennett used at the three on third down and in passing situations and Williams coming in to spell Hill and play some short yardage and goal-line. That would be a nice mix. Different fits for different scenarios.

For Williams to start full-time in Seattle he’ll probably need to see Hill struggle to create pressure. If it comes down to who is better versus the run with neither being great against the pass, Williams wins that battle. But I suspect the Seahawks believe Hill can be effective getting into the backfield (while being acceptable versus the run) adding a dimension to the defensive line that they lacked last year.

This was a solid pick in round five but I do understand why he fell — and I don’t think it was just the knee. To some teams the upside potential wasn’t really worth taking the chance. To Seattle, it clearly was. Even if Williams only ever offers light relief for the starters and solid run support, it’ll still be a good move. If he struggles to have an impact or the injuries play up, it really was no big gamble for this team. Working alongside Hill and Bennett this year, the Seahawks should be able to find a combination that works.

62 Responses to “Thoughts on Jesse Williams”

  1. Nolan says:

    I think it was a good pick if he checks out healthy I bet he beats out tony McDaniel for a roster spot. He seems like he would offer similar strengths to Alan Branch last year. He also could get involved in goalline plays on offense as a ball carrier and/or a better blocker. He could end up getting to be a starter if hill doesn’t work out and we decided to go with the big DLine again. Rob do you think he would fit in the red Bryant role incase of injury or for when the team moves on form red?

    • Trudy Beekman says:

      When we were talking about him getting drafted in Round 2, my thought was that he could be a situational/rotational guy that eventually might replace Mebane specifically. It doesn’t seem that Pete wants much out of them past maintaining an anchor and gap integrity and I think this is where Williams excels, especially inside. It will be interesting to see if he can play the 5 and set an edge as well.

    • Rob Staton says:

      He might be a fit in the Bryant role but I’m not totally convinced. We’ll have to see. They like incredible size at that position. Even bigger than Williams. I suspect Tony McDaniel might end up being the backup five tech with Hill and Williams rotating the three.

      • Nolan says:

        How man DL can they keep they currently have : Clemons, Bruce Irvin, cliff Avril, Bennett, McDaniel, Jesse Williams, Hill, mebane, Bryant, Scruggs, and McDonald. That’s 11 guys we know they aren’t going to cut Mebane, Bryant, Clem, Avril, Irvin, Bennett, that’s six locks how many spots are left for mcdaniels, McDonald, Scruggs, Williams and Hill?

        • Nate says:

          They could reposition Avril and Irvin as “LB” to solve this logistic

          • Cole says:

            You also forgot Jaye Howard. I don’t see us being able to keep more than 10 Dlinemen at the most but at least two players should be cut.

          • Dan says:

            That’s a different perspective.. If i were Smith or Morgan, I’d be a little concerned that Irvin and Avril are taking my roster spot.

          • Nolan says:

            I guess but the we are pretty thin with real LBs

      • Leonard says:

        Williams weighs 323lbs. just like Red and is only a half inch shorter. Arm length is probably the big difference.

  2. James says:

    Looking at the various video clips, Williams reminds me of Colin Cole. I hear people raving about his play so I am going to take a wait and see attitude. Hope he works out.

  3. Jon says:

    I think that a player that could effectively back up the1, 3, and 5 Tech positions for thenext four years is a great pick. I believe that ishis minimum impact, and actually think that he does beat out Red next year if he gets healthy with a year of strength training and coaching at the prolevel.

    I thinkitis quiteunlikely that Red makes the team in 2014. The odds are against him in my view, though I do like him.

    Rob, I know they love size at the 5T, but is there any way that the Hawks let Bennet fight for that spot (5T), or is he just a nickle DT in the Hawks D?

    • Jon says:

      man my space bar must not have worked in that post.

    • CHawk Talker Eric says:

      I also think Bennett has a shot at replacing Bryant at 5T beyond 2013. Also think he could be the 5T on passing downs this year.

    • Chris says:

      Bennet is waaaaaay too small to replace Red unless they decide to switch their defensive philosophy enormously. That role is much closer to NFL noseguard than rush end, even a good one that can play the run.

      This is main problem which has been forcing them to try Irvin/Avril at SAM. If neither of those guys can be effective at SAM, then Bennet may never see the field except as a DT in long-distance downs. Bennet’s usefulness on this team depends on one of those guys being able to pull it off.

      • Jon says:

        yes he is much smaller, but the point of Red is Run D. Bennet was rated much higher than Red in Run D last year as far as grades for the DE position.

        • Chris says:

          Bennet’s job in run defense under a different scheme can’t be compared to Red’s. Carrol’s defense and the job of the LDE is unique.

          It’s like saying Browner was a very highly rated player against the run, so he’d make a good nose tackle. Bennet’s play as DE for another team was much different than our LDE’s responsibilities in the base defense. He may play the run well in a different version of the LDE position, but for Carrol’s his responsibilities include holding up against double teams of interior linemen, not just maybe doubles of a tackle and TE.

          • CHawk Talker Eric says:

            To say that the same position in a similar scheme is as different as CB and NT simply isn’t accurate. TB runs a similar 4-3 defense, and I know Da’Quan Bowers played most of his snaps from the right side. Since Bennett was the other DE starter, he must have been the LDE.

            Carroll’s version of the 4-3 is different primarily because he’s adapted it to fit the strength of his players. Red is big and stout and holds up against the double team, but he doesn’t have a rush. So PC shifted pass rush responsibility from the 5T to the LEO.

            But Bennett would give PC something at the 5T that Bryant doesn’t: QB pressure. Bennett had 9 sacks and 3 FF last year. At the very least he’s an option for 5T in PC’s nickel D. Also keep in mind that Bennett started for a defense in TB that led the NFL last season in allowing the fewest rushing yds/gm. Clearly he can stop the run.

            • Alex says:

              What you described there is basically a change in defensive philosophy. We’re right now in a hybrid build where the 5 tech and 1 tech position have 3-4 elements while the right side with the one gap 3 tech and LEO are playing with 4-3 elements. Asking Bennett to take over the 5 tech is more or less changing to a traditional 4-3. Bennett can stop the run very well with 1 gap, but he’s nowhere big enough to hold 2 gaps that the current hybrid scheme calls for.

              The biggest difference between current hybrid scheme and the traditional scheme is that the 4-3 scheme you’re proposing Bennett play only has to worry about 1 gap with pass rush responsibilities while the hybrid scheme calls for Bryant to absolutely hold the edge with 2 gaps (versus 1). Pass rush responsibilities are minimized because if you can absolutely stop the run with 2 two gap players (1 tech and 5 tech) with maybe the SAM as the clean-up LB, then you can essentially shift the rest of the defense to the right side and hope to overload that side and to use #s to make up the lower run defense from the LEO/3 Tech.

              In the Bennett 4-3 scheme, you would need a more balanced approach. That’s not to say it wouldn’t work, but it will be a stark departure from what the Seahawks have been doing. And FWIW, Pete Carroll has stated that he believes in the current hybrid scheme due to the 49ers influence in the mid 1990s. The only reason he went with a traditional 4-3 scheme at USC was because the coaches and players couldn’t handle the hybrid scheme that the current Seahawks run.

      • Jon says:

        So what your saying is that if you can add a LEO to that side of the line, then Bennet may have a chance to play Base 5T?

        • LadyT says:

          Agree Jon. I think Bennett will rotate into the 5 tech periodically as well as play 3 tech on passing downs. Bennett will get plenty of snaps in both those positions, because he is a good run defender.

          • Chris says:

            All true IF Avril or Irvin can play some SAM. Otherwise it’ll be Irvin playing the 5 tech when Red is resting. Red already rests on passing downs, he doesn’t really need to be spelled during that time by Bennet. Bennet’s only going to be a 3tech pass rusher unless Carrol and crew are able to open up snaps at LB for someone. There just aren’t enough snaps to go around otherwise. The math simply doesn’t work.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think it’s unlikely Jon. According to Carroll, Bennett is going to take over from Jason Jones. I think they want him working inside with the speed off the edge (Avril, Irvin… Clemons when healthy). They have the flexibility to use a more orthodox four man front if they wish with Bennett at left end, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s something they use. I don’t think much will change with the scheme.

  4. AlaskaHawk says:

    Jesse looks more like a football fan than a player. I think he will do fine. You always need some beef up front. So what if he doesn’t split a double team? He is still using up two opponents and creating room for one of our other players to rush the QB.

  5. JoeV says:

    To me Willams can do what Alan Branch did. Take up space and push a lineman back into the pocket when need be. Perhaps they had Branch in that role because thats all they had. Or perhaps thats what they wanted out of that spot. If so, I would think Willams would get 1st and second down with Hill comming in on 3rd. Williams body type and strengths line up Red Bryant and could possible be his successor. I highly dought they will put Hill in on 1st and 2nd if he can’t hold up to stop the run because this is Priority #1 for PC.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think they’ll want more pass rush in base which is why they made the Hill pick in round three. I have a hard time seeing Hill as a rotational third down guy when they already signed Bennett to do that.

  6. I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I trust Carroll and Schneider because they’ve proven they know what they’re doing. How many of you were questioning the decisions regarding Russell Wilson last year? You all can talk all you want but I trust that they know what they’re doing better than any of you.

  7. Ben2 says:

    3-4 anyone? Doesn’t it seem like Ivin a Avril could be rush LB? We gave a hybrid defense…only problem with sub-packages in defense is a hurry up no huddle….

    • Alex says:

      A 3-4 isn’t any better than a 4-3 defense. It’s all about personnel fit. You can take the Bears defense playbook in 1985, but if you don’t have their killer front 7, it’s all moot.

      The hybrid defense that Carroll runs certainly has past success. In 1995, the 49ers with Carroll as DC was #1 in total defense and #2 in scoring defense. But yes, an over reliance on sub-packages could be a problem against no huddle teams.

    • Rob Staton says:

      This has always been a 4-3 with 3-4 personnel. They’re not going to move away from that.

  8. Ben2 says:


  9. Barry says:

    From what I have hear he (Jesse Williams) could better condition himself. The injuries are a lingering issue with his conditioning. Hes a meat and potatoes kinda guy who was content at being who he is. If he applies himself he could be a possible Probowl D’tack.

    The fact that we got both him and Hill to me is very exciting.

    Also Rob, you stated on your draft wrap up post last Sunday that John Schneider seemed a bit down. I’d agree. One of those things ya kinda wish you could ask and get the answer as to who they may have missed out on, if so.

    • Jon says:

      May havebeen an Armonty Bryant type, that got picked I believe in the 7th. Just one or two picks before the hawks were on the clock.

    • A. Simmons says:

      John Schneider was tired. Attributing emotional content over a video camera without knowing the individual is nothing but baseless speculation. I have no idea why people keep attempting to assign some secret sense of loss to John Schneider because they “think” he was down or grimaced or gulped. That’s an unknowable assertion with no merit.

      • Barry says:

        You’re right it was just speculation. But as this is a blog and I am not a reporter I was making a observation. I fully understand the taxing ordeal the draft must be, and did not mean to offend you with my observation.

        • A. Simmons says:

          I’m not offended. I just don’t understand attempting to attribute hidden distress to a person not personally known. I’ve seen this done quite a few times in relation to the draft. I watched and listened to exactly the same post-draft interviews and didn’t hear or see a single thing different in John Schneider’s usual demeanor. I didn’t see anyting different with Pete. Business as usual is all I witnessed. I can only surmise that individual opinions of blog and forum posters are at work rather than anything different with Pete or John. The poster is distressed or feels a sense of loss, so they are projecting their own feelings onto John Schneider or Pete Carroll. Thats’ the only psychology I see at work when I read these type of posts.

      • Rob Staton says:

        It’s only an observation. Compared to last year when he was visibly excited, he seemed much less so this year. Maybe it isn’t anything, but it’s not exactly wild and baseless speculation to consider he missed out on a couple of guys he really wanted this year. That’s the way the draft goes sometimes.

  10. Other Ben says:

    It was Pete or John that said, specifically, that he was going to get a shot at the 3-tech on early downs. As far as I’ve heard, he’s more likely to start than Hill. He’s basically going to play the “Alan Branch” role which involves stopping the run on early downs and backing up Red and Mebane. He’s much cheaper than Branch with maybe a little more upside. He might also take over for Red in 2014 when his guaranteed $ runs out and some young guys’ contracts come up for extension.

    I think, more than anything, that this FO wants to stop the run. Rushing the passer is important but you can’t let teams dictate tempo/clock and outwork your DL by allowing the opposing offense to run unimpeded. As much as Pete values running the ball, that’s how much he values stopping the run.

    Last year, we were really bad against the run in the 2nd half of the year. Adding Williams is an important step towards fixing that. It might be one-dimensional but it’s no more one-dimensional than adding Avril or Simon or Michael and that dimension is as important to Pete as any other in football.

    • Alex says:

      It’s not rocket science. Absolutely shut down the run on 1st and 2nd. Get them into 3rd and long. Bring pass rush sub-package in by swapping out 2 LBers for 2 DBs and switch the DL to a pass rushing DL. SWARM THEM. At least that’s the plan. The problem the Seahawks ran into later into the season was that they got repeatedly burned on 3rd and long. More often that not, our 3 man pass rush wasn’t able to get to the QB while our CBs are stuck in zone which is not their strong suite.

      That decline against the run probably had to do something with Red Bryant’s injury. He couldn’t hold 2 gaps at the 5 tech anymore, which is why certain teams really ran hard against us. The base package requires the left side to absolutely shut down run with 2 and at most 3 players (the SAM is the 3rd) so that we can shift the alightment to the right side.

    • A. Simmons says:

      Camp will sort it all out. It’s a competition, they’re all in the mix.

  11. Ryan says:

    Mebane is getting older and is by no means inexpensive. Could Williams be his replacement after a year or two of being groomed by PC and Quinn?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think it’s a little early to talk about replacing Mebane. And Williams has to prove himself before we start to consider that possibility.

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      I think it would be much more likely that we see Williams at 5 tech. He has the unnatural nimbleness and strength/size combination that made Bryant the ideal fit there.

  12. Chris says:

    I see Williams and Hill fighting for the 3 tech on early downs, with Hill winning if he can show some good run play and Williams winning if he can be the monster against the run his ceiling indicates. Williams will be the 3 tech short-yardage guy.

    Hill will probably lose out on snaps to Bennet at 3 tech in passing downs, but might be able to slide over to 1 tech on passing downs.

    If Hill has troubles against the run at the NFL level he might not have anywhere to play really, while it looks like Williams will surely have places to play as long as he’s healthy.

  13. Kip Earlywine says:

    I am very interested to see what Dan Quinn can do with Williams at the 5-tech. I think I’d be pretty happy with Bryant long term if quarterbacks didn’t lackadaisically jog around his pressures last season. Williams’ straight line speed is just a shade below Alex Okafor’s. I’d be really interested to see how he goes in a Bjoern Werner type pass rush role at the 5-tech. Not saying he’d be any kind of pass rush force, but he might be a step up from Bryant while still providing elite run defense.

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      Yeah, I see him as a potential replacement for Bryant in the future. He is clearly a better closer than Red.

    • A. Simmons says:

      I agree, Kip. I like Red Bryant. Cool name. Team player. Fiery individual. When Tom Brady is running laps around him, there is something wrong. He doesn’t even disrupt the QB by chasing them. They literally run ahead of him, reset, and look downfield for a few seconds before Red catches up. If he wants to be on this team long-term, he needs to step up his pass rush and maybe drop some weight. I don’t expect him to rack up sacks, but at least make the QB have to work to pass on that side once you get past the line. He wasn’t even great against the run last year. Yeah, he had a foot injury. But was it caused by another player or caused by carrying too much weight? How bad does Red want it is what I’m wondering. Hopefully bad enough to drop some pounds and gain a few steps of speed.

  14. Eran Ungar says:

    Why i do like Williams way more then the above…

    Here comes this guy to a leading team (Alabama), he doesn’t know the game so well, didn’t grow in it, has no proper background or fundamentals. Sound like a “no thank you” except the guy is a monster. He is a net 325 pounder. It’s all muscles not a 15 pound round midsection. He is strong as an ox and runs the 40 at 5 sec.

    So, you give him a simple task. One that fully revolves around his physical capabilities. One dimension job – stop the run and anchor the run D. They have him one year as DE and only then shift him to the center. They didn’t do it because he was not good enough as a DE, they did it caouse he was good enough to move to the middle.

    What i see in Williams is a player that at worst can be a run stopper. A power run stopper, the kind of guy you don’t power out of your way, the kind of guy who makes the Linebackers job easier to do cause the closed gaps are CLOSED. If he’ll be a “starter” blocking the run to no gain on a first down so that Hill can come in and play the rest or he’ll be labeled a run stopper for obvious running plays – He will have impact on those plays.

    However, if he is healthy and as eager to progress and work hard as i think he is – He can be almost anything we’d like. With proper pro level personal training he has the power and quickness to push the pocket back, he can be the player you cant handle 1 on 1 and must double team, he can play the 1 or the 5 in addition to being a scarier Branch.

    Since you mentioned that the seahawks like bigger guys on the 5 spot (Red) – well, Red is 325 too. If Williams has Red’s body shape he’d be 345 Red…

    I love this pick because it has the sure bet parts of having a monster plugging the run game (we do play some tough running teams twice a year) but if i read him correctly – in 2 years of pro training and conditioning we might have one of the greatest stills yet.

    Not bad for a 5th round pick.

    Besides, any player that JSPC moved up in the draft for the first time ever for must be running or water or something right ?

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      They said they technically moved up for Tharold Simon. They just happened to take Williams first. I wouldn’t read too much into them moving up. They were just playing the board

  15. Nigel says:

    The only way i see Hill beating our Williams for snaps at 3tech on early downs is if Williams injury is not 100% healed or if we are playing an unbalanced passing team i.e. Saints.

    • Nigel says:

      That was a response to Chris a few subjects up the board, i forgot to hit the reply button… oops.

  16. Nate says:

    I recall hearing Pete on the radio saying that Bennett will play RDE-1T in base, 3-T in pass. At least until Clem comes back. If Williams is healthy for training camp or the season, then I don’t see how you don’t start a man who can bench 600+ w/ a draft rating as high as his was, at the 3 in base (the side rbs prefer to run to) first down. On 2nd and 6 or less, it could be more feasible for Hill at LDT and Mebane slide to 3-T. In nickel/pass, the ideal front would be Clem, Bennett, Hill, Avril with Irvin at WILL and Wagner at MLB. Until Clem heals: Avril, Bennett, Hill, KJ with Irvin at spinner (WILL or SAM) and Wagner at MLB OR Red, Bennett, Hill, Avril with Irvin at spinenr (WILL or SAM) and Wagner at MLB. Irvin would pass rush solely. I know this sounds cheesy, but I have tweaked with all the line possibilities in Madden, on All Pro and find this to be most effective. Notwithstanding the sub-package with dbs, someone mentioned above. I just don’t see dbs with good pass rushing skills like spin swim and club like a full time pass rusher.

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      Well, you probably didn’t hear that, because they aren’t going to bench one of their highest paid players before training camp. He will probably come in at 3 or 5 on passing downs. And Hill offers much more pass rush than Williams. I could actually see Williams as a surprise candidate for beating out Red for the 5 tech spot. But they’re not just going to hand over a starting job.

      • Nate says:

        “Well, you probably didn’t hear that, because they aren’t going to bench one of their highest paid players before training camp.” Not sure which player you were referring to in saying bench?

        • Kenny Sloth says:

          Bryant is the 5 in base and Mebane is the 1 in base. Bennett will not likely be playing those roles

          • Colin says:

            It wouldn’t surprise me to see Bennett play some 5 technique. I know they want size at that position, but it has to be an intriguing idea. Someone who has really good run defense capabilities like his in addition to good pass rush.

            • Rob Staton says:

              Personally I would be surprised to see Bennett play the five unless they’re going to utilise more orthodox 4-3 looks. They’ve really ramped up the desire for size at the five. Case in point — when Bryant was doubtful for the Bears game last year, they were going to move Alan Branch from the three tech to the five, while starting Greg Scruggs at the three. So I’d argue they’d be more likely to start McDaniel or Williams at the five (if Bryant gets injured) and Bennett at the three. I don’t expect to see Bryant out of the base line up though unless he picks up an injury.

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      Irvin will probably never play Will. I used to do the same thing with Madden, but have decided it’s unrealistic and have stuck to paper x’s and o’s.

      • Nate says:

        You are correct, I was just sharing an ideal front, knowing it probably won’t happen – if you had a 2-gap DT at the 3, then Irvin could pass rush between guard and center or tackle and guard with his WR like speed. Even if a RB or FB were to take him on, the QB feels the pressure.
        Irvin is better suited at SAM pass rusher than LDE if he is unable to learn better pass rush moves.

  17. A. Simmons says:

    How good were the other defensive lineman on Alabama I wonder. Was Williams the centerpiece of their defensive line or one of the lesser players. He played two years at Alabama after playing at Junior College. That leads me to believe he is a very raw player. If Quinn can coach him up, perhaps he can be even more effective.

    • Jon says:

      I feel like they see him as a projected starter. Possibly not this year but in 2014 and beyond at 5T. A year of coaching and pro training can get himthere.
      You are right that he is raw. He has only been playing football for a few years now.

    • Alex says:

      This year, he was the best on the DL. With that said, the Alabama DL hasn’t been as strong as it’s been the last few years. Run defense wise, the DL is probably on par with the 3 previous teams, but the pass rush is lacking this year from the entire front 7. I felt this team defeated their opponents with their unstoppable OL (Barret Jones, Fluker, Warmack, and Kounjiado).