BBD Contributor: Brian Krosky
Versatility is the name of the game in the NFL. Most players are now asked to do more than one job, and the ability to contribute in multiple capacities sets great players away from good players. This is especially true for defensive linemen, where the best players need to be able to rush the passer and stuff the run, play in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes and adjust their talents to multiple roles. Leonard Williams, a 2013 third-team AP All-American from USC, has no shortage of versatility.
As a freshman in 2012, Williams played 3-technique defensive tackle on a defense coached by Monte Kiffin, who is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff. The Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year, he totaled 64 tackles, including 13.5 for loss (8 sacks), while he also had four deflections, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
Last season, Williams occupied the 5-technique defensive end position under new USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. He started 13 games and had 74 tackles, including 13.5 for loss (6 sacks), with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He suffered a shoulder injury against Oregon State on Nov. 1, and struggled with the recovery the rest of the year.
USC’s defensive scheme is changing yet again this year and Williams is set to play defensive end in the Trojans’ 3-4 alignment. He has two years of remaining eligiblity for USC, but should be a top prospect for the 2015 draft if he declares.