New York Jets defensive line coach Andre Carter has gotten a good look at former Alabama player Quinnen Williams during the team’s organized team activities (OTAs) in May and this month.
One thing is pretty clear after seeing the 6-foot-3, 303-pound defensive lineman in action.
“From a coach’s perspective there is a reason why he is a first-round draft pick,” Carter said of Williams, who was the third overall pick in the NFL Draft in April. “He’s explosive and definitely has a knack for the ball. Obviously he was taught well and coached well from one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, so that stands out.”
So it didn’t take long for Williams to make an impression on the Jets. It also didn’t take long for the Jets to make an impression on Williams.
“I was like a little fan at first,” said Williams in May, on being star-struck upon meeting his new teammates. “You’ve got to think about it at the time, like seven months ago, I didn’t even know I was going to start (at Alabama). So do be in this position right now, I’m like ‘bro, this crazy.’ When I get to meet people, I be like ‘man this is dope.’
“I met Le’Veon Bell, and I’m like ‘whoa, that’s Le’Veon Bell,’ the No. 1 running back in the NFL. It’s just crazy. But I know I’m one of the people too, though. I met Sam Darnold. That’s crazy. Jamal Adams…. I got Jamal Adams on my (Madden) Ultimate Team. That’s crazy.”
It’s easy to see why the Jets picked Williams. New York’s defense ranked 25th overall in the NFL in 2018, allowing 380 yards per game. The run defense ranked 26th with opponents averaging 126 yards per game. The Jets’ 37 sacks ranked 20th in the league and they ranked 29th in scoring defense with opponents averaging 27 points per game.
The Jets are hoping Williams can turn in results like his final season at Alabama, where he dominated the middle of the line of scrimmage to the tune of 18.5 tackles for a loss with seven sacks and 12 quarterback hurries.
“I think I fit in well,” Williams said of playing in defensive coordinator Greg Williams’s scheme. “With me being smart enough to learn all three positions, wherever he needs me to play I’ll be able to play.”
The rookie has gotten a lot of support from his defensive line teammates, including 10-year veteran Steve McClendon. Williams said McClendon is one of the biggest reasons why he’s flourished in OTAs and minicamp.
“As a rookie you are coming in blind,” Williams said. “The game is faster and you are going up against men who are way smarter, way stronger. So having someone who is basically giving you a blueprint on how everything is going to be (is amazing). Steve, he tells me how minicamp is going to go, how next week is going to go, how my offseason needs to go.”
“I’m definitely going to get stronger and I’m going to get smarter. I’m a rookie so hanging around veterans and learning what to do on and off the field and learning how to work out and learning my routine – all these things that make guys 12-year veterans and 14-year veterans, I’m going to learn from. I’m going to get faster, stronger, more agile and athletic as I go on.”