Eagles: Milton Williams’ versatility could be an X-factor in 2021

The Philadelphia Eagles third round selection in this year’s NFL Draft, Milton Williams, is one of the more intriguing players on the roster entering this season. He was drafted as a defensive tackle. The majority of his collegiate career was spent at that position. But the Eagles have been using Williams primarily as a left defensive end, Brandon Graham’s typical spot along the defensive line.

Williams has the prototypical tweener build. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 284 pounds, Williams could contribute at any position up front. And his athletic profile lends itself to playing either inside or outside.

Williams’ measurables are flat out elite for someone of his size. He was in the 90th percentile in 40-yard-dash, vertical jump, 3-cone drill, and 20-yard split among all defensive lineman in this year’s draft. Not to mention he also put up 34 reps on the 225 pound bench press.

He’s a freak of nature athletically. In just 23 snaps during the Eagles first preseason game, that athleticism was on full display. Williams didn’t record any tackles, but his impact was felt.

On this play, Williams showcases one of his pass rushing moves, swimming to the inside of Pittsburgh’s backup right tackle Joe Haeg. Haeg is a five-year vet who’s started 38 games in his NFL career. He’s no slouch. Williams doesn’t get credit for the sack here, but his pursuit of the quarterback through two blockers collapses the pocket, leaving Mason Rudolph with no room to step up.

This type of play was routine for Williams last Thursday night.

Here’s another where Williams forces Rudolph to get rid of the ball before he’d like to. It’s a straight up bull rush from Williams, and he pushed Haeg right back into the passer.

Credit: phillyvoice.com

Aside from Graham, there isn’t another defensive lineman on this roster who possesses as much versatility as Williams does. Heading into a year where there isn’t a defined starting role for the third round pick, that versatility will get Williams on the field in no time.

This type of player is invaluable for a defensive line. Jonathan Gannon will be able to utilize Williams in a number of different ways.

Although Williams’ pass rushing pallet isn’t as vast as you may like, he makes up for it with his strength. Plus, it’s clear that he has been working on broadening his pass rushing arsenal, as evidenced by the first play showcased here.

Pick your poison with this Louisiana Tech product. Graham needs a breather? Insert Williams and let him wreak havoc. Cox or Hargrave need a play off? Unleash a fresh Williams on one of the opposing team’s guards.

This Eagles defensive line was already deep, but adding someone like Williams who can lineup anywhere and find success makes this line legitimately scary. I’m not sure how you can game plan for this many pass rushers and expect to hold them off all game.

I don’t want to jump to conclusions based on just 23 snaps of play, but Williams is certainly trending towards being a pivotal part of this defensive line in 2021. Keep an eye on him during the remainder of the preseason. Chances are you’ll see him causing sacks and giving offensive lineman headaches.

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