Leonard Williams NFL Draft News: League Execs Say USC DE is No. 1


Former USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams has long been a hot topic going into this week’s 2015 NFL Draft. On Sunday, a report from Bob McGinn of Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel indicated that several NFL executives polled had the Trojan as the top player available.

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"Twenty executives in personnel were asked by the Journal Sentinel this month to name the best player in the draft regardless of position. Williams dominated in the poll just as he did on the field, capturing 11 votes to four for runner-up Amari Cooper, the wide receiver from Alabama. Meanwhile, Williams is the only player in the draft to be a unanimous pick as the finest player at his position."

The Williams admiration is nothing new, as he has been projected in NFL mock drafts going anywhere from the first pick to seventh pick.


  • Should he go in the top four picks, he could be the first defensive player to come off the board.

    That’s seen by how McGinn peers into the value played on Williams by defensive coordinators, who cite his versatility on the defensive line.

    Per McGinn, executives indicated that he would be the top player at two different positions –defensive end and defensive tackle– depending on whether teams choose to run a base 3-4 or 4-3 defense, respectively.

    In his time at USC, Williams played three seasons playing three different roles in three different defenses: Monte Kiffin’s 4-3, Clancy Pendergast’s 5-2 and Justin Wilcox’s hybrid 3-4.

    The 2015 NFL Draft is set for Thursday night from the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, airing in a simulcast on both ESPN and the NFL Network.

    USC hasn’t had a player go No. 1 overall since Carson Palmer in 2003, though if chips fall in Williams’s favor, he could be the fifth player in school history to earn the honor.

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