HOUSTON -- What do Grady Jarrett, Chris Jones and DJ Reader all have in common besides playing the defensive line? None of them were first-round picks.
Jarrett left Clemson undervalued when the Atlanta Falcons selected No. 137 in 2015. He went on to a pair of Pro Bowls. Reader was selected by Houston one year later at pick No. 166. He's been one of the league's best in stopping the run.
The production speaks for itself with Jones, no denying that.
For the 2021 NFL Draft, defensive tackle has unanimously been regarded as the weakest position as a whole. Alabama's Christian Barmore is the lone potential first-rounder while Washington's Levi Onwuzurike might hear his name called in the top 50.
Where does Louisiana Tech's Milton Williams lie on all this madness? A perfect spot for the Houston Texans to add him to the trenches.
Reader walked in free agency to the Cincinnati Bengals on a four-year, $53 million contract. Prior to his departure, the Texans ranked at in the top half twice, finishing No. 3 in run defense for 2018.
The first year without Reader? Dead last. Houston allowed opponents to average 160.3 yards per game on the ground and 5.3 yards per run.
Williams isn't the ideal option to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 set. The 6-1, 285-pound Bulldog is considered undersized and limited in the numbers.
The last time the NFL doubted an undersized defensive tackle came in 2014. His name was Aaron Donald coming out of Pittsburgh.
Seven years later, some believe he's the best player in the game, becoming just the third player to win the Defensive Player of the Year three times.
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This isn't to say Williams is the next Donald for whoever drafts him, but watching the tape, teams see a competitor who won't quit. Although the Conference USA isn't the SEC, Williams consistently won battles in the trenches and needed to be contained from winning leverage in the backfield.
Based on his pro day numbers, there's a valid argument Williams could be a steal should he fall to No. 67 overall. His 4.63 40-time was faster than Donald's in 2014 (4.68). It was faster than Barmore's (4.96) and Onwuzurike (4.85) by over 2/10ths of a second.
Williams' vertical jump (38.5"), broad jump (10'1") and three-cone drill (6.96) all were better numbers than Donald as well (32") (9'8") (7.11), respectively.
In the Texans' 4-3 front, Williams would be asked to play primarily a one-gap system. During his with with Louisiana Tech, he thrived when manning just one hole. In the final two years, he recorded 104 tackles, 19 tackles for losses and 10 sacks up the middle.
There's two sides to Williams when looking head on. The player side oozes production and promotes the possibility of All-Pro potential. The weigh-in side brings caution and concern on if his body can handle the inside pressure.
Keep in Mind that Donald now is in a 3-4 front and has been playing the outside since 2017.
In a thin defensive line class, Williams likely will be the most athletic player of the bunch. The size could have him slipping deeper into Friday evening.
If the fall continues, Texans GM Nick Caserio can make it stop at No. 67.
Scouting measurables: 6-3, 284 pounds, 31.5-inch arms, 9.75-inch hands, 4.63 40 time, 38.5-inch vertical jump, 121-inch broad jump 34 bench-press reps.
2020 Stats: 10 games, 45 total tackles, 10 tackles for losses, 4.5 sacks, one fumble recovery.
Scout Says: Putting his processing on display, Williams shows great timing to disengage and make tackles in the run game. His pad level is low for the most part, allowing him to win the leverage battle at the point of attack and uproot blockers. In the zone running game, he gets laterally well thanks to his athleticism and balance. When getting his hands inside, he can convert his get-off into power. Arriving at extension is crucial as he is unable to bench press opponents out of his frame and extend." - SI's NFL Draft Bible
Quotable: "I knew that I was going to be the fastest defensive tackle in this draft class; no question about it. No defensive tackle anywhere was going to run faster than me. I broke the record three weeks ago, and I broke it again today. That's how confident I am in my work ethic, and I put that on display today." - Milton Williams following his pro day
NFL Comparison: Mario Edwards Jr., Chicago Bears
CONTINUE READING: Texans Lose NFL Draft Day With Loss of Second-Round Pick