Futures: USC DT/DE Leonard Williams

Photo by James Santelli.
Photo by James Santelli.


This year’s unofficial theme at Futures is profiling complete football players: physically, mentally, and conceptually sound prospects with the versatility to contribute in multiple roles within their position — and in some cases, on either side of the ball.

My profiles of Shaq Thompson, Myles Jack, and Ameer Abdullahhighlight the skills that earned these three the term of endearment “he’s a football player.” The more I study tape, the easier it is to see the commonalities among good football players from any position.

They often seem like invisible threads that weave through the game: techniques and concepts that link defensive linemen to wide receivers and running backs, offensive tackles to cornerbacks, and centers to safeties. However, these threads become luminescent when an excellent football player takes the field.

We marvel at their freakish athleticism with cross-positional undertones. He’s got the speed of safety and the size of a linebacker. He’s built like a defensive end, runs like a feature back, and spins the ball through the eye of a needle with defenders hanging off him. Or, he blocks like a guard, catches the ball like a wide receiver, and runs like an old-school feature fullback.

Last year, I wrote that Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald was on my short list of the safest early-round picks in the 2014 class. I also noted that he was one of the two prospects most likely to develop into a Pro Bowl player.

USC junior Leonard Williams might be better than Donald. At least I think he is, and so does my friend Ryan Riddle. Read the rest at Football Outsiders.

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