From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents Today, I’ll be profiling Tulane LB Dorian Williams.
#2 Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane (Senior) – 6006, 228lb
Senior Bowl Invite
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Dorian Williams||6’0 6/8”, 228lb||10 1/4||32 3/4||80 1/2|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Has decent height and length at the position
— Possesses good play speed to run-and-chase the ball
— Experienced defender that padded the stat sheet during his time in college
— Runs to the football sideline-to-sideline, showing effort in pursuit of the football
— Does a good job extending his hands to keep blockers off his frame
— Can work through trash near the LOS
— Aggressive tackler that tries to go through the runner
— Has been used on twists and stunts in the past as an effective blitzer
— Capable of making zone drops, reading the QB’s eyes to play the pass
— Effective as a QB spy, mirroring the passer and tracking him down
— Proven special teamer during his four years in college, playing over 700 snaps on various units
— Lacks the ideal bulk and density you want in an off-ball linebacker
— Can and will get engulfed by size if he doesn’t get hands on the blocker first
— Will get off blocks occasionally, but lacks size and strength to stay clean consistently
— Has good open field speed, but won’t run down ballcarriers often from behind
— Can do a better job taking consistent angles to the ball to avoid overrunning or underrunning the play
— Often gets lost in man coverage, lacking the instincts and fluid movement skills to consistently hang with backs and tight ends
— Mental processing is a bit slow as he is delayed in reading the play and pulling the trigger
— Slow processing leads to him getting out of occasion when it comes to tackling in the open field
— Senior Prospect from Indian Land, SC
— Born June 28, 2001 (age 21)
— Three-star prospect that was also recruited by Coastal Carolina and Troy
— Appeared in 11 games as a true freshman and recorded 14 total tackles (six solo) as a reserve/special teamer
— Earned more playing time in 2020, playing 12 games (four starts) and racked up 97 total stops (64 solo), 15.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, and three PBUs
— Started all 12 games in 2021, notching 73 total tackles (44 solo), three TFLs, a sack, three PBUs, and a fumble recovery
— Started 14 games for the AAC Champions in 2022, making 132 total stops (81 solo), 8.5 TFLs, five sacks, two INTs, seven PBUs, and two forced fumbles
— 2022 first-team All-AAC, 2020 All-AAC Second Team
— Homeland Security Studies major
Dorian Williams from Tulane was the heartbeat for a Green Wave defense that enjoyed a great 2022 season. Williams had strong 2020 and 2021 campaigns, but they couldn’t compare to the 2022 season he had in his final year in college, posting over 130 total stops along with five sacks, two INTs, and two forced fumbles. When you watch the tape on Williams, you see an aggressive defender that pursues the football well, running from sideline to sideline and chasing down ballcarriers with great effort. Here are a couple of examples of Williams as a run-and-chase defender, tracking down the UCF QB as he attempts to get to the corner, and getting him down on the ground.
While Williams has the skill set to make plays out on the boundary, he also isn’t afraid to come downhill and fills gaps as an old-school run plugger. Watch this first clip of Williams coming up to stuff the run against the Trojans near the goal line and a second clip of Williams working through trash near the LOS to find the runner and take him down for a short gain.
Williams’ effort in pursuit makes him an effective blitzer as shown in the clip above, being used on twists and stunts to pressure the passer. Watch this first clip of Williams wrapping around the RT into the pocket as he proceeds to bring the QB down for the sack. In the second clip, we see Williams make a pure effort play as he gets cut by the RB in the gap but proceeds to get back up and take down the QB in the pocket for the sack.
Williams has shown that he can be a capable coverage defender when asked to drop into zone and read the QB’s eyes. Watch this first clip of Williams dropping opt his spot and get a hand on the pass on the in-breaking route. The second clip shows Williams reading the QB’s eyes from the middle of the field in zone coverage and he breaks on the ball once thrown, catching the tipped pass for the pick.
While Williams can be an effective run defender, he lacks the ideal play strength to effectively take on blocks by offensive linemen. He has the arm length to keep blockers off his frame, but once they get on him, he usually struggles to get off blocks. Watch this rep where Williams has the TE climb to the box to pick up Williams as the back runs off his backside. Williams tries to work around the block rather than attack the blocker, looping around as the runner squeezes through the hole as Williams is taken out of the play.
One negative that also sticks out from Williams’ tape is that he tends to be a tad slow when it comes to processing what is happening in front of him. He tends to bounce around with his eyes in the backfield, having to see the ball and where it’s going rather than using his instincts to flow to the ball. Take a look at this play against the Trojans where Williams takes a couple of steps in the second level as the QB gives the ball to the back, standing in place, and stalls his feet as the OL comes up to pick him up. Williams attempts to dive at the runner, missing the ankle tackle as the back rips off a long run to the end zone for six.
Overall, Dorian Williams is a solid defender that shows great pursuit against the run and get after the passer as a blitzer. He is a capable defender in the passing game, dropping into zone coverage and making plays on the football. However, he lacks great instincts as he takes time to read and diagnose the play, being late to pull the trigger as times against the run as well as when tasked with man coverage situations. He also lacks great size and play strength, causing him to get stuck on blocks more often than you’d like.
When watching Williams play, his play style, body type, and pro projection reminded me a lot of former Ravens LB Josh Bynes. Bynes went undrafted back in 2011 and caught on with Baltimore as a special teamer. However, he worked his way to start 75 games during his NFL career, lacking the ideal size and athleticism for the off-ball LB position, but showed great effort in pursuit as a reliable, high-floor defender.
I foresee Williams having a similar role in the league, starting out as a depth player and special teamer, but could earn his way onto the field with time. The Steelers could stand to add to the LB room with Marcus Allen, Devin Bush, and Robert Spillane slotted for free agency. While Williams may not be the answer to a starting position, he could provide viable depth and be a core special teamer that gets onto the field and earns defensive snaps as he acclimates to the NFL game.
Projection: Day Three
Depot Draft Grade: 7.2–Rotational Player (4th Round)
Games Watched: vs UCF (2022), vs USC (2022), at Cincinnati (2022)