By Dylan MacKinnon
In the third round at 73 overall, the Eagles selected DT Milton Williams from Louisiana Tech. Unless you were locked into Conference USA football, you likely don’t know who he is. But there is a lot to like. Let’s get to know the newest Eagles a bit better.
If y0u were listening to the ESPN draft coverage, your ears might have perked up when you heard a few things they said. Mel Kiper said his tape and measurables were similar to Aaron Donald. Booger McFarland called him a more athletic Gerald McCoy.
And as grandiose as those comparisons seem, there is some truth.
These numbers are fairly similar, and they are in fact Williams( Player A), and Donald (Player B). Donald was 6’1″ 285 pounds, Williams is listed at 6’3″ 284 lbs.
Now of course this doesn’t mean Williams is Donald. Donald isn’t just big and athletic, he is supremely polished and talented. But it’s not like Williams is untalented. He makes good use of his hands when shedding blocks, and has good instincts. There is certainly still some development needed in that department, but he is not someone to be considered a complete project, and scouts say he can contribute off the bench in year one.
Eagles 3rd RD pick benched 500 lbs last month— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) May 1, 2021
Hello Milton Williams
Misused in College
There is a gap between Williams’s athleticism, his tape, and his actual production. His stats aren’t bad, but they also aren’t eye-popping. Scouts noticed the same thing and went investigating to find why his talent and athleticism didn’t lead to more sacks and tackles for loss.
“When I spoke with people at Louisiana Tech as to why that was, it was because the scheme asked him to be more of a gap occupier rather than a playmaker. I thought back to a name that people will recognize, L’Jarius Sneed, a fourth-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs who had a terrific rookie season with the Chiefs last year, came out of Louisiana Tech. It was the same situation.”
So what was happening seems to be they were asking Williams to take up space, rather than get to the QB. Pauline further explained, saying this.
“Sneed was a playmaking cornerback the first two years he was at Louisiana Tech. Senior season they moved him to safety, they asked him to move to just sort of be more disciplined with assignments, keep the action in front of him. That’s what’s happening with Milton Williams. Milton Williams is not talked about a lot out of scouting circles. Inside scouting circles, they love the guy and right now he’s teetering on being a top-75 selection.”
Draft Experts and Scouts like Pauline expect Williams to be much more productive in the NFL on a team that will let him push downhill and attack the Qb and the RB. He has the profile, and the skillset to do so. Well, at least scouts think he does.
Most QB pressures by draft-eligible DTs last season:— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 9, 2021
1. Christian Barmore, Bama - 39
2. Milton Williams, LA Tech - 30 pic.twitter.com/wkSqvW5hFM
Cowboys Apparently Loved Him
For what it is worth, it sounds like the Eagles may have snagged a guy the Cowboys coveted. Tony Pauline also went into this for Pro Football Network.
“I know that the Cowboys love him. I’m told that they’re going to send upwards of a half a dozen scouts to the Louisiana Tech pro day to watch him tomorrow. Eric Gleason, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and remember the name of Milton Williams as we come to draft weekend Day 2 for the Dallas Cowboys.”
I don’t know about you, but a pick just feels better when its screwing over a rival. See DeVonta Smith in the first round as well for this.
What Experts Think
“Pound for pound, Williams can match his toughness and strength with many of the interior defenders in this draft. Determining his best positional fit will be up to the team that drafts him, but he’s a good football player who understands leverage and knows how to use his hands. He’ll have some bumpy snaps from time to time due to a lack of length and overall mass, but it shouldn’t be debilitating for his NFL career. Williams possesses twitchy power and short-area athleticism, but needs to continue the development of working the hands and feet as one to unlock his potential. His pass rush is relatively pedestrian at this time and will need to be upgraded to become more than just a good backup. Teams will weigh the tape and testing against subpar physical traits, but the end result could land him in the middle rounds as an upside talent.”
“I believe his best chance in the NFL comes in a defense that gives him opportunities to play on the edge on early downs with chances to rush from interior gaps on long and late downs. He is a terrific run defender that processes well, plays with extension, and has good power at the point of attack. As a pass rusher, Williams keeps his hands engaged and relentlessly competes to clear contact. He has good twitch in his upper body and the agility needed to get around the edges of blockers. Williams has a chance to factor into the defensive line rotation early in his NFL career with the upside to command a majority of the snaps as he develops.”
Williams isn’t a name that was on many fans’ radars, but that isn’t always a bad thing. Fans can’t watch all these games, especially not ones from lesser-known conferences. But there is a lot to like about Williams. He is a high upside, low floor. Every draft expert seems to think this guy is an immediate contributor and a future starter. He may never live up to how much the ESPN crew hyped him up, but he should be a guy who makes plays for this team for a good while.