You can’t always get what you want, as the Rolling Stones once sang, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get Jonah Williams.
Those words were never truer than they were today, when I wound up snagging the Alabama tackle in SB Nation’s annual mock draft. This happened after my top five defensive linemen—Nick Bosa, Ed Oliver, Quinnen Williams, Brian Burns, and Montez Sweat—all were snapped up by teams in front of me, and hulking right tackle Jawaan Taylor went one pick to the Dolphins in front of me. That’s not the outcome I was hoping for, if we’re being candid, but Williams is a hell of a consolation prize.
Williams has drawn favorable comparisons to Jake Matthews. He’s an inch short and a couple of pounds lighter at the moment, but like Matthews, he’s quick, an excellent technician, and profiles to be a quality long-term starter in the NFL. As a bookend to Matthews, he has a chance to be good right away and excellent over the long haul, and his rookie deal gives the Falcons the opportunity to keep that tandem together for 4-5 seasons, which probably coincides with the remaining great years of Matt Ryan’s career, give or take a couple. It’s not the exact pick I wanted and it puts real pressure on the Falcons to nail their defensive selections later on, but Williams is value here and the offense is effectively complete for 2019 with this pick.
Could I have gone with another top player on Dan Kadar’s board? Yeah. Jeffery Simmons won’t be an option for Atlanta that high, though, given his character concerns, and Christian Wilkins and Rashan Gary are not players I’m in love with, the former because he doesn’t figure to be an impact pass rusher and the latter because his inconsistency makes him a real gamble this early.
Here’s what Mocking The Draft guru Dan Kadar had to say about the pick:
This pick was really shocking until the final part of the explanation. Surely if Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins is there, he makes a lot of sense. He’s arguably one of the 10 best players in this draft, and not far behind Oliver as a prospect. He’s a great fit, a great value, and fans would love him.
That line about Ryan’s last great years is sticking with me, though. It’s easy to forget that Ryan turns 34 in May and that he’s been in the NFL since 2008. Ryan was excellent last season, but if the line in front of him is shaky he could regress some. A player like Williams, who played right tackle at Alabama in 2016 and became a Freshman All-American, should fit fine on that side in the NFL.
It’s a fascinating discussion, though, on which position the Falcons need more in the first round.
As a fun refresher, here’s who I took in each of the SB Nation mock drafts stretching all the way back to 2008. The team I would have built with these picks would be demonstrably worse than the current Falcons and absolutely top heavy with DEs, I fear, but it would have had Khalil Mack and Justin Houston, which is something.
Previous Mock Drafts
2018: DT Taven Bryan
2017: DE Derek Rivers | G Dorian Johnson
2016: DE Shaq Lawson | S Keanu Neal
2015: DE Randy Gregory | CB/S Eric Rowe
2014: LB Khalil Mack | T Morgan Moses
2013: DE Tank Carradine | CB David Amerson
2012: RB David Wilson
2011: DE/LB Justin Houston | T Marcus Gilbert
2010: LB Sean Weatherspoon
2009: ILB James Laurinitis | S Michael Hamlin
2008: T Jake Long | QB Joe Flacco | DT Kentwan Balmer | CB Tracy Porter | RB Tony Hunt