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2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: EDGE Sam Williams, Ole Miss 

Air Date:
March 19, 2022

2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: EDGE Sam Williams, Ole Miss 

 

 – (by Ross Jacobs)

 

Sam Williams might be the most natural, athletically gifted edge rusher in the 2022 class. Just watch this clip from his game against Auburn. 

*Video Clip will open up to the specific play, but don't avert your eyes away from it too soon…and feel free to enjoy the rest of the reel as well. https://youtu.be/5zs0uo8AIos?t=103

There are not many edge rushers that can completely blow past an SEC tackle like that, miss the initial sack and yet get up off the ground and still chase down and close on the QB for the sack.

Williams possesses prototypical size, length, and athleticism for an NFL edge rusher. At the combine he measured in at 6'4”/261 with 33” arms, nearly 10” hands, and he put up an absurd 4.46 40-yd dash time. For comparison's sake, Aidan Hutchinson ran a 4.74 at a similar weight and media darling Kayvon Thibodeaux ran a 4.58 around 7 lbs lighter.

Despite all this, he's found nowhere near the top of the edge rush rankings for anyone. So why is a guy this athletic, that registered 12.5 sacks in the SEC not getting more attention?

Consistency and off-field questions. Williams is raw. There's no way around that. He's only been playing football for a few years now and is still learning the game. His pass rush moves are essentially non-existent and he's still making his play felt through athleticism alone.

In the clip above, you can see that Williams doesn't even use a move to beat the blocker. He simply blows right past him with pure speed. He can get by with that in college, even in the SEC, but that won't cut it in the NFL. He will have to develop his arsenal and learn to harness that athleticism to become a more effective all-around defender.

On top of his raw technique as a pass rusher, in the run game he's often a non-factor or even a liability. He has the power to hold his ground but it's just a matter of correcting his technique and fundamentals. This issue crops up the most against polished blockers like Evan Neal. Neal had absolutely no problems simply walling off Williams in the run game. He would simply allow Williams to move to a spot and then insert himself between Williams and the ball. No extra effort needed. It's just one more thing Williams will need to work on in the NFL.

Raw technique is one thing, but the real issue dragging Williams down is his off-field concerns.

Williams had a rough childhood. He was removed from his mother's custody at only 6 years old and bounced around to different family members for years. He witnessed a lot of very hard things growing up including losing two people close to him to gun violence. In high school he was suspended although the details are fuzzy. Williams claims that a teammate brought a knife to school and he and a few others were playing with it in the woods.

In 2020 sexual battery charges were brought against him and dropped a few months later. Again details are scarce.

From watching his interviews I don't believe Williams is a bad guy or a troublemaker. He's rather soft spoken, seems to be coachable, and it's clear he's trying to make the most of his opportunities. He's spoken a lot recently about how the birth of his child has changed his perspective on things and how he wants to make sure his kid grows up differently than he did.

I think he probably has hung around a bad crowd in the past. That's what he grew up with and it's hard to get away from those patterns of behavior. But I do think he's trying and I think a few teams will buy in on him and try to steer him down a better course. This isn't a Reuben Foster situation.

Williams played only 1 year of high school football and despite showing flashes of his insane potential, he wasn't recruited to any Div I colleges due to bad grades. He attended Northeast Mississippi Community College instead where he began to learn the game and got in a weight room for the first time.

After two years there the big schools came calling. Williams was the #7 overall junior college recruit and decided to attend Ole Miss over multiple other offers including Alabama and Auburn.

Despite only 3 years of football training, Williams made an immediate impact with 6 sacks his first year in the SEC. He followed that up with 4 sacks in 2020 and broke out this past year with 12.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 57 total tackles.

There are definitely real question marks surrounding Williams. Is he ready to put his past mistakes behind him and learn what it means to be a pro? Can you coach him up, fix his technique, help him channel his physical gifts? All the ability is there. He's a raw piece of clay to work with and unlike many other physically gifted prospects, Williams already has proven he can be successful against the best college competition. If he can put it all together Williams could be a top 5-10 edge rusher in the NFL in very short order.

 

 

2022 NFL Combine Measurables:

 

6'4”/261, 9 7/8” hands, 33” arms

4.46 40-time

32.5” vertical, 10'3” broad jump

 

 

Sam Williams Through the Lens of our Scouting Algorithm:

 

12.5 sacks, 15 tfl, 4 forced fumbles, and 57 tackles from an SEC edge rusher is pretty salty, and that's considering Williams rotated in with other linemen more regularly than some of his peers

2nd in the SEC in sacks behind only Alabama's Will Anderson

Two career bowl games but no sacks in either.

Had 4+ tackles in 9 of 13 games in 2021

3 of his 4 forced fumbles and 5 of his 12.5 sacks came against Austin Peay, Tulane, and Liberty

My NFL comp for him would be a faster Robert Quinn.

 

The Computer Scouting Model Comps: 

 

DE-rating Last First Draft Yr College H H Weight Power, Strgth   Speed, Agility   Pass-Rush rating Tackle rating

7.961 Williams Sam 2022 Ole Miss                6     3.5 261 9.02 11.25 9.70 5.89

9.585 Willis Jordan 2017 Kansas St 6 3.6 255 10.87 14.19 10.32 6.25

11.034 Barwin Connor 2009 Cincinnati 6 3.5 256 10.25 13.33 12.26 6.01

18.611 Freeney Dwight 2002 Syracuse 6 0.7 266 11.90 15.99 10.81 10.35

 

 

NFL Draft Outlook:

I've seen Williams being mocked anywhere from the late 3rd round to undrafted. If I was taking a guess today I'd say he goes 3rd round. He seems like a nice kid and I think at least one team is going to jump for his athleticism and SEC production. It's just too tempting a combination. If I was a GM I'd definitely have Williams on my radar assuming the background checks came back clean. I'd start thinking about him in the 3rd round depending on how badly I needed an edge rusher and the longer he stayed on the board the itchier my trigger finger would get. No way I'd let him get past the 5th round.

 

 

NFL Outlook: 

He'll likely continue the inconsistency for a few years while he continues to work on his body and add to his pass rush repertoire, but somewhere around year 3 or 4 we'll see him either make that big jump or flame out and start bouncing around the league. His upside is a Robert Quinn/Danielle Hunter level pass rusher, but he could just as easily be the next in a long line of promising, athletic pass rushers to bust in the NFL due to character or technique issues. If I had to bet a nickel I'd say he's going to mostly work out although it might take a few years. The fact that he's already produced in the SEC is a huge sign saying he's capable of making the jump and putting it all together.

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics. 

Learn more about RC and the College Football Metrics system >>