Leonard Williams: Prospect Breakdown (with GIFs)

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Dec 27, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers running back Ameer Abdullah (8) runs as USC Trojans defensive end Leonard Williams (94) defends during the fourth quarter in the 2014 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports


Since he was just a freshman, Leonard Williams has made an impact for USC.  He finished his freshman campaign with 64 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, four passes batted down and one interception.  He earned Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year thanks to his efforts.

In his Sophomore season, Williams notched 74 tackles, again registered 13.5 tackles for a loss, recorded five sacks and forced one fumble.

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2014, In his Junior season, Leonard was recognized early in the season as one of the best defensive lineman in the country, facing double teams since the start of the year.

Despite the extra attention, Williams posted his best year yet.  He recorded 80 tackles, seven sacks, 8.5 tackles for a loss, forced three fumbles, batted three passes and came up with one interception.

He also played early in the season with a high ankle sprain, and was still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Leonard finished his college career as a two-time First-Team All Pac-12 selection, and a two-time All-American.

Williams is a native of Bakersfield, CA and is a vocal fan of the Oakland Raiders.


  • Legit NFL size at 6″5, 300 lbs.
  • Versatile.  Can play 3-Tech (DT in a 4-3), 5-Tech (3-4 DE) and USC also would stand him up on occasion.
  • Powerful
  • High motor
  • Great balance and impressive agility, especially for his size
  • Sheds blocks with ease
  • Quick, violent hands
  • Engages blockers and disengages quickly
  • Wins at the point of attack
  • Toughness, played through injury

Williams is truly the complete package.  He possesses a rare combination of size, strength and athleticism.  Combine his physical traits with his abilities as a pass rusher and a run stopper and you have yourself a recipe for a special talent.

He’s got long arms that allow him to be the first to engage, so he often wins at the point of attack.

He can shed blocks in a multitude of ways, and make it look easy.

His punch is elite, knocking blockers on their heels with one swipe.

There have been some questions about his motor, but in watching seven games for this article, there were only enough times to count on one hand where I could see someone say he took a play off.

When watching the clips on the next slide, make note of his versatility.  USC had Williams line up all across the defensive line, which is a trait that will translate to the NFL.


  • Good, but not great, first step
  • High pad level
  • Injury history

One of the few areas of Williams’ game that isn’t elite is his first step.

It may be something that he is coached on, but when Leonard gets in a “frog stance”, his first step is almost always slow.

Williams also plays with a high pad level, meaning he is body is in an upright position.  This makes it much more difficult to gain leverage on a blocker and although he gets away with it in college, he’ll need to improve on getting his body lower in the NFL.

Leonard has a short injury history, which may be some cause for concern.  To his credit, he often played through his injuries but he has hurt his ankle, and also has had a shoulder surgery.

Next: Williams Film Breakdown: Pt. 1