NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
The Patriots are off to the Super Bowl! We, as Patriots fans, are as lucky as it gets. Fans can go a lifetime without seeing their favorite team make a Super Bowl and we get to experience it for the 6th time in 15 years. I’m not going to let “deflategate” get me down. I am going to enjoy these next two weeks and hopefully top it off with the Patriots hoisting up the Lombardi Trophy for the fourth time. Every other team besides the Patriots and Seahawks have started their off season preparations, including breaking down draft prospects. Nepatriotsdraft.com has to do the same thing, so today, I continue to look at Defensive Tackles.Name: Xavier Williams
School: University of Northern Iowa
Weight: 325 Lbs.
Williams is very athletic for a man his size and shows impressive movement skills forward and back as well as laterally. He weighed in at 325 lbs at the Shrine Game but he holds it well and looks and plays much lighter. His best attribute is his initial burst and quick first step. On tape, he is consistently the first person to move at the snap of the ball. He has the ability to get “skinny” when trying to get in between blockers and is disruptive in the passing game as well as in the run game. He has strong and active hands, which keep opposing linemen off of him. In the past two years he has blocked 6 kicks,which illustrates his impressive lower body strength. In the running game, Williams anchors well with good leverage.
One thing I noticed in the games I watched was that Williams had a tenancy to put his head down. This leads to him being unaware of who has the ball or where the play is going. He seems so focused on beating the double team and getting into the backfield that opposing teams can run right by or around him. He needs to work on play recognition and awareness. He also has a lot of penalties because he tries to anticipate the snap. Another concern is the level of competition he played at in college. Although an FCS team, UNI has played several FBS teams over his career and he played well in those games. Williams held up well against double teams in college but he will need to add strength to hold up in the NFL.
Williams is intriguing and has the potential to rise up draft boards as the process continues. He had a strong showing at the Shrine Game, both in the game and during the week of practices. He was highly productive throughout his college career as well. Williams needs to get into an NFL program to increase his strength and get acclimated to the speed of the game but he has starter potential down the road. If the Patriots decide that a DT is not a high priority for this team, Williams could be a nice option later on in the draft.