The tension in the Philadelphia Eagles draft war room was real, borderline uncomfortable, right after the franchise selected Milton Williams. They traded down three spots in the third round to get the undersized defensive tackle and not everyone was happy about the move.
The TV cameras caught a jubilant Howie Roseman fist-bumping front-office executives over Williams, then he gets to senior advisor Tom Donahoe and the euphoria dies. He didn’t seem to like the pick. The video instantly went viral and became a metaphor for reported dysfunction within the organization.
Roseman addressed the awkward scene when discussing the Eagles’ Day 2 selections at the end of the night. He was open and honest, although it sure sounds like there might be some hard feelings.
“These guys spend all year scouting these guys and you get favorites,” Roseman said. “Guys you feel strongly about, we all do, and that’s the fun part of being in the draft room, the emotions of it. At the end of the day, Milton Williams is an exciting player for our football team. We’re excited to have him. I don’t want to take away from his day. We’re all excited about that pick.”
Williams could very well turn out to be a great pick like Roseman said. There is much to like about the 6-foot-3, 284-pounder from Louisiana Tech. He wreaked havoc over the past two seasons for the Bulldogs as he racked up 10 sacks and 104 tackles (19 for loss). He was first-team All-Conference USA and third-team All-American while starting all 10 games his senior season.
Maybe those numbers don’t blow you away, but his measurables surely will. Williams had better marks than Los Angeles Rams’ stud Aaron Donald in nearly every category. Take a look and remember it’s pro day versus combine:
Aaron Donald, 2014 combine: 6-foot-1, 285 pounds, 4.68 40-yard dash, 32-inch vertical, 35 reps on the bench, 9’8 broad, 7.11 three-cone, 4.39 short shuttle.
Milton Williams, 2021 pro day: 6-foot-3, 284 pounds, 4.67 40-yard dash, 38.5-inch vertical, 34 reps on the bench, 10’1 broad, 6.96 three-cone, 4.33 short shuttle.
Not only that, Williams had to deal with many of the same knocks that Donald did when he was coming out of college. Scouts thought he was too small. Unpolished. Raw. One-dimensional as a three-technique. Time will tell if he makes the same meteoric rise the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year did. And, yes, it’s way too early for those comparisons.
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Williams Not Lacking Confidence, Speed
Immediately following his pro day at Louisiana Tech, a few people started whispering about Williams moving up into the first round. That didn’t happen. But the Texas native flashed enough juice to get the hype train on the rails, then he opened his mouth. The drip was real.
“I knew that I was going to be the fastest defensive tackle in this draft class; no question about it,” Williams told reporters, via Bleacher Report. “No defensive tackle anywhere was going to run faster than me. I broke the record three weeks ago, and I broke it again today. That’s how confident I am in my work ethic, and I put that on display today.”
Williams also broke Pro Football Focus’ record for the single-highest pass-rush win rate for defensive tackles (21.4%) and his 30 quarterback pressures were second only to Alabama’s Christian Barmore. Impressive.
Scouting Report: ‘Boom-or-Bust Player’
His size could be an issue at the next level but there’s no denying his freakish athleticism. He’ll have to overcome a “lack of length and overall mass,” per NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein. However, the upside is unreal for Williams who translates as a defensive tackle in the NFL or a rotational pass-rusher, depending on the system. He played in a 3-4 scheme in college and was a two-year starter.
Pound for pound, Williams can match his toughness and strength with many of the interior defenders in this draft. Determining his best positional fit will be up to the team that drafts him, but he’s a good football player who understands leverage and knows how to use his hands. Williams possesses twitchy power and short-area athleticism but needs to continue the development of working the hands and feet as one to unlock his potential.
Meanwhile, The Dallas Morning News’ John Owning called Williams a “boom or bust” candidate and wrote:
Williams is one of the bigger boom-or-bust players in this draft. If a team can refine his technique to maximize his athleticism and play strength, then Williams could end up as one of the best players in this class regardless of position; however, if Williams doesn’t, he could disappoint and never become more than a rotational cog in a defensive line rotation.