PFF Analyst on New York Jets Quinnen Williams: Not a Bust But Needs to Improve

Kristian Dyer

Quinnen Williams is far from a bust right now but there is work to be done, that is the message from Pro Football Focus and their recent grades of the 2019 NFL Draft class. 

Out of all the first round picks from last year’s NFL Draft, Williams was the third-highest graded selection in the release of data from Pro Football Focus. This is coming off the highest grade of his career last week in a loss at the Cincinnati Bengals when he marked off a 77.5 grade according to PFF, an analytics site that grades every play and position of the NFL season. 

Williams was graded only behind Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and San Francisco 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa this season. Williams was graded as a 69.5. 

Sam Monson, PFF’s Lead NFL Analyst, said that there has been good and bad in the grading of Williams this season. 

"Given what we expected from him, we're as disappointed as anybody with his rookie season so far.  His overall grade isn't bad, but it's all driven by run defense, which typically goes unnoticed,” Monson said.  

“As a pass-rusher, he's been virtually anonymous, with just 13 total pressures on the season, or six fewer than Jamal Adams...a safety.  I think it's too early to declare him a bust, but he certainly needs to improve." 

Judging and grading an interior defensive lineman can be tricky to do based off of just stats, which is why PFF’s analysis beyond the numbers can be helpful. Highlight plays and big numbers don’t always tell the full story. 

Consider that as a rookie, Warren Sapp, considered one of the best interior defensive linemen of the past quarter-century in the NFL, didn’t put up huge numbers. In 16 games (eight of which were starts), Sapp had 27 tackles and three sacks in 1995 as a rookie. 

Williams, for what it’s worth, is projected to finish this year with 31 tackles and two sacks. 

Part of the problem in assessing Williams is on perception. The Jets passed on defensive end Josh Allen to take Williams. And Allen is having a monster rookie season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, tallying 34 tackles and nine sacks.  

Allen, who won the Chuck Bednarik Award last year from the Maxwell Football Club as the nation’s top college defensive player, is perhaps an unfair comparison. As an edge rusher, Allen’s responsibilities are far different than Williams, who has the unheralded and underappreciated role of gap assignment and taking on multiple blockers. 

The role of a defensive tackle or a nose tackle in the NFL is often undervalued, but it frees up the edge rushers and linebackers to make plays in the backfield. It is a crucial role, even if it doesn’t put up huge numbers or draw a ton of attention. There is also a heavy emphasis in the run defense. 

Allen has a season-long grade from PFF of 66.4.

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