Leonard Williams. What can we write about the New York Giants’ defensive lineman at this point that we haven’t already written, probably multiple times?
The answer is, not a lot. So, as we discuss Williams as part of our nearly-completed look at the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp next week we will summarize a lot of what we have already been through. We will also ask a poll question about Williams when we’re finished.
Let’s get started.
Position: Defensive tackle
Contract: One-year, $16.126 million (franchise tag)
How he got here
You know the story. With the Giants at 2-6 and out of the playoff hunt GM Dave Gettleman agreed to a controversial deal for Williams at last season’s trade deadline, surrendering a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick for the former New York Jets first-round pick, a free agent to be.
Williams made the defensive line better, but did not produce big statistical numbers of his own. Yes, here is where we mention that he had only a half-sack for the entire season.
Gettleman often expressed confidence that Williams, just 26 entering the 2020 season, would sign a long-term deal to stay with the Giants. He ended up being wrong about that, at least for the upcoming season, as Williams will play on the franchise tag, earning a seemingly out of line $16.126 million after having netted only 7.5 sacks the past three seasons.
We have been over this a number of times. Williams is a good player, a valuable member of a defensive line who plays the run exceptionally well, creates pass rush pressure, makes his team and his teammates better. He just doesn’t make a lot of plays on his own, or at least hasn’t the past couple of seasons.
Nick Falato’s recent film study of Williams is really the definitive word for us on what Williams is and what he can be expected to be. Here is Falato’s conclusion:
“There are a lot of strengths that Leonard Williams provides the New York Giants defense. He is a plus run defender and he creates interior pressure. Since joining the Giants in Week 9, Williams tied for eighth in pressures from then till the end of the season, and that’s with a BYE week. Some of the “too little, too late” can rectify itself. Let’s not forget that Williams has had 8- and 6-sack seasons, despite only being 26 years of age.
“There’s reason to believe that Williams can benefit from Patrick Graham’s defense. Graham is going to use a lot of fluid looks, especially in third down situations. While with Miami, Graham would utilize one or two down lineman, with roving second-level defenders that were tasked to provide pressure by slanting/stunting, and creating picks to open up opportunities for other defenders. Graham didn’t have anyone near the caliber of Leonard Williams in terms of athletic ability, quickness, and size. Expect Williams’ versatility to be utilized by Graham, and if the secondary is improved, like we hope, then that may give Williams that sliver of extra time he needs to not be late.
“Williams shows very good athletic ability for someone of his size, excellent diagnosing ability, good technique, length, and strength at the point of attack. Williams pass rushing repertoire is vast for a defensive lineman, and he utilizes good reactionary quickness to counter against opponents; it’s one of the reasons why I feel more sacks are coming (can’t be much less than .5). He has the tools in his arsenal. I value the pressures that Williams provides on the quarterback, but if you want to make the big bucks, you have to finish and create sacks.
“If Williams is requesting the money that has been rumored, then he has to finish, and not just come close. Pressures are excellent, but sacks are a big determining factor in terms of earning a contract. People tend to have a negative outlook on Williams, due to the trade and the contract negotiations; I get that, but his contributions to the Giants are still incredibly valuable; he’ll be a great asset for Patrick Graham moving forward, but it has to be at the right price long term.”
Answer the poll question below.
Let’s place the over/under for sacks by Leonard Williams this season at 4.5, provided he plays all 16 games. Which are you taking?
This poll is closed
Over — He’s a good player and the production will come
Under — He’s collecting money for doing nothing