The 49ers have selected a defensive lineman in three of the last four drafts; Arik Armstead in 2015, DeForest Buckner in 2016, and Solomon Thomas in 2017. Could they select yet another in the 2019 NFL Draft?
Just a sophomore, Williams has been climbing up draft boards and with another dominant performance this Monday night he could make it too hard for the 49ers to resist. Draft guru Todd McShay of ESPN ranks Williams as the second highest prospect just behind Nick Bosa.
During media day for the CFP National Championship Game, his defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi talked about what makes Williams so special… “He’s got a lot of versatility to his game, his initial quickness, his body and balance control. He can hurt you. He plays with power. He utilizes his hands well, and above all that stuff, it’s who he is inside. He’s an animal.”
With all the hoopla going forward you would think a young man like Williams, who’s on the verge of becoming a multi-millionaire, would be a little anxious for the NFL Draft, but the thought of being a top five pick hasn’t even crossed his mind.
“I really haven’t thought much about the draft or the NFL.” Williams said. “I see it on Twitter and all that, but I don’t dig much into it or spend much time on it. I’m focused on winning a national championship.”
Williams’ focus has served him well, before the season began he was concentrating solely on switching positions. Being a starter on Alabama’s exclusive defensive line was simply a byproduct of putting in all the hard work.
“I didn’t even think I was going to start at the beginning of this year,” Williams explained. “I was working on the transition from defensive end to nose guard. We have a lot of guys who could’ve had that position. There were a lot of guys I had to outwork on my own team just to start and play.”
Williams keeps in touch with many Alabama alumni who currently play in the NFL, including defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Recently he has been picking their brains on what to expect as he prepares for a life in the National Football League.
“I already have like the blueprints on how the NFL goes and stuff like that,” Williams replied. “They just give me advice along the way and just teach me what to do.”
With Monday nights game possibly being the last of his college career, Williams suddenly finds himself following in his fellow alumni’s footsteps. Even though he has not yet publicly declared for the draft it figures to be a foregone conclusion that he will.
For general manager John Lynch and the 49ers, research for deciding whether or not he is worth the second overall pick will begin on the their own home turf. Levi’s® Stadium will host the fifth National Championship game of the College Football Playoff era. No. 1 Alabama will face No. 2 Clemson on Monday, January 7, 2019.
- ^”2019 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP”. levisstadium.com. Retrieved January 6, 2019.