1. Quinnen Williams: Since game two of the 2018 college football season I have been beating the ‘Nick Bosa is the best prospect available to NFL teams’ drum. I still think he’s a top prospect at a premium position. However, having taken a few days to really dig into the game of Quinnen Williams, all I can find myself saying is “my goodness.”
What jumps out? The explosiveness and utter domination of other large human beings. Williams plays with a hot motor; he relentlessly pursues ball carriers and quarterbacks. There is a high level of intelligence and nuance to his game which you just don’t see from most one year starters. He is great against the run but what makes him even more extraordinary is his ability to rush the passer with the polish of a veteran player. Williams combines power, intelligence, agility and fluidity at over 300 pounds to split double teams consistently.
This type of player demands opposition sides game plan for their presence and given how freakishly amazing Aaron Donald has been throughout his career, it just makes Quinnen a must have prospect. Furthermore, the former Crimson Tide player has no off-field issues, no serious injury history and a massive ceiling for growth – a scary thought!
2. Nick Bosa: It almost feels like I know this player personally; I’ve been over as many of his games as I could find repeatedly. Bosa is a very good prospect with a well rounded pass rushing arsenal: He can bend the edge, use inside moves, he plays hard, he plays with great leverage, he is disruptive on almost every snap, he turns the football over, he is explosive and he converts speed to power like a top tier NFL defensive end should.
Drafting Bosa right now means you’re looking at 8-10 sacks as a rookie; he is already that good and he’d be joining a formidable defensive line with the 49ers.
My slight worries about him stems from the injury history: Two season ending injuries in his young career and a lack of overwhelming measurables that you typically see from elite prospects mean whilst he’ll be a very good player for you, he’ll likely never be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. This is no knock on Bosa, because three months ago we would have bitten off a hand for a ten sack EDGE rusher. It would be negligent on my part not to say that his political beliefs have NO effect on how I feel about him as a prospect, but I think he’ll ultimately fit seamlessly with the 49ers organization. If I were to give him a grade out of 10 as a prospect it would be a solid 8.5.
3. Devin Bush: I expect raised eyebrows with this selection; it’s the right first name but the wrong last name for most people. For me, Devin Bush is the best linebacker in this class and one of the best players available. He possesses great instincts for the position – this is what I think separates him from Devin White. He has the ability to read plays and accelerate so effortlessly that you almost believe he will overrun the play, which rarely occurs. Bush is a great lateral mover who will chase down plays everywhere on the field.
Don’t be fooled though, Bush is a thumper as well. It’s not all speed – when he hits you it’s usually over. He tackles with a ferocity which seldom allows yards after contact and he has natural leverage because he’s only 5 feet 11 inches. Even so, he hardly ever gets swallowed up by offensive linemen. His leadership stands out, his teammates rally with him and he sets the tone for a defense, playing with an infectious passion for the game.
He will nevertheless need some coaching up on his zone coverage drops and sometimes suffers because of his lack of length.
Overall though, Bush is a three down linebacker who can play the run, hold his own in space, be a leader for your team immediately as well as offer you decent help in coverage.
4. DeAndre Baker: After running a 4.5 40 at the combine people started to panic about Baker. Questions arose about his long speed and ability to be a lead corner, but I have none of those doubts.
I see an ultra-physical defensive back with patient footwork who won’t hesitate to jam or re-route wide receivers at the line of scrimmage – this is partly why I don’t worry about his coverage over the top. He displays an understanding for route concepts and usually breaks on the football after locking up his matchup. The ability to play both man and zone coverage without a noticeable drop-off is an asset that not many corners can lean on. DeAndre Baker is a bully that will fight receivers on every catch as well as come up and tackle with no fear – a must in todays NFL. My worries about Baker are his lack of ideal size and good but not great athleticism which doesn’t leave much room for growth. I believe he’ll nevertheless be a very good player with a long career.
5. Jonah Williams: There’s no way I would make this list without an offensive lineman. Let’s begin with the “he can be an All-Pro center crowd”, just because he doesn’t have arms long enough to tie his shoe laces without bending over. Whilst this may be true, many offensive linemen have overcome shorter arms in the NFL to become great tackles, see Joe Thomas and our own Joe Staley.
Jonah plays with excellently quick feet which he uses to mirror edge rushers. He plays with good leverage and can sink his hips in pass protection. He is of the most competitive offensive linemen I’ve seen, he will straight up attack defenders. You rarely see him give up a sack or pressure and he does his job reliably; badly needed in a league where the offensive line play is great for some teams but terrible for many others. I noticed lots of intelligent plays from Williams, knowing when to pick up stunts and locating free rushers.
I have some concerns about his power and ability to move people in the run game however. Acknowledging those issues along with his lack of overall top level athleticism and his inability to handle power in pass protection at times (see Clelin Ferrell in the National Championship game) and you start to see why some believe he should switch positions.
I believe Jonah Williams will be a starting tackle with NFL conditioning and help from veteran players. He could start at right tackle or guard for a team who has an ageing starter at left tackle with hope of eventually being the replacement. It would be remiss of teams not to give him a chance to try out at tackle before kicking him inside.