Big Leonard Williams wreaked havoc in the opposing backfield throughout his sophomore campaign at defensive end, thus earning him the No. 1 spot on McShay’s way-too-early 2015 NFL Mock Draft.
Standing at 6-foot-5, 290 pounds, Williams is an imposing figure on the Trojans defensive line.
After switching positions from defensive tackle to defensive end and earning All-American honors despite playing through the season with a torn labrum, Williams displayed the grit and versatility every NFL coach searches for.
Scouts rave about Williams’ unique skill set at his size and his ability to play any position along the defensive line.
Todd McShay also projected a defensive end to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and his name was Jadeveon Clowney. It was interesting to see how Clowney dealt with the hype of being projected as the No. 1 overall pick and a Heisman hopeful, as he seemed to fold under the pressure and the scrutiny of the ongoing publicity.
Many scouts and analysts criticized Clowney for seemingly taking plays off. There were also questions about his willingness to play in games as injury concerns hovered.
After much debate about his worthiness of being a top overall pick, Clowney had to remind everyone of his freakish athleticism, once again, at the NFL Combine and was chosen No. 1 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Williams is not nearly under the same microscope that Clowney was in last year. However, the way he handles the expectations of being projected as among the top overall picks will be interesting to follow this season.
Playing all of last season hurt, Williams said that he was “65 to 70 percent” healthy and still destroying offensive linemen, en route to becoming one of the five best Trojan players, according to USC Athletic Director, Pat Haden.
Coming off of shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, Williams missed out on the first spring practice of the Steve Sarkisian era to recover and be fully healthy by the time fall camp rolls around.
USC, a top NFL factory, failed to produce a first-round draft pick each of the last two years. Williams looks to break that streak and continue the pipeline of dominant Trojans continuing onto the NFL.