USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams is one of the undisputed best defensive prospects in this year’s NFL Draft. At 6’5″ 301 lbs, the Trojan captain has been almost unanimously mocked by draft experts to be selected in the top five after accumulating 80 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, one interception and forced three fumbles during his 2014 season.
Understandably the New York Giants and their 30th ranked run defense from last season would be more than happy to take the potential star. However, New York seems too far out of range to be in the conversation to select Williams with their current standing at number nine overall.
Yet, that has not stopped the Giants from expressing interest in the player described by NFL.com as someone who “with coaching and more experience, Williams should be able to match the athleticism with the power and become a consistent Pro Bowler with a ceiling that goes even higher than that.”
Two different scouts even suggested Williams could be the best player in the entire draft, with one saying, “he is Reggie White. He can play anything and dominate. Watch the bowl game. When he could have shut it down, he dominated Nebraska. He will be a perennial Pro Bowler ‐ no and’s, if’s or but’s. If I am Lovie Smith, I’m not taking a chance on a quarterback. I’m taking the sure thing.” While the other flat-out said “Leonard Williams is hands down the best player in the draft.”
With Hall of Famer comparisons already being drawn, Williams clearly has all the potential in the world to be one of the best players in the NFL five years from now. If the Giants want a chance at Williams they will have to trade up to get him. The cost would likely be steep as last year the Buffalo Bills had to give up their first rounder, this year’s first rounder, and a fifth rounder to move up from number nine to number four to select Clemson’s Sammy Watkins.
In the Giants’ case, if quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota go numbers one and two overall and the Jacksonville Jaguars select Vic Beasley, then the Oakland Raiders at number four could be the ideal trade partner. The Raiders, who are in desperate need of receiving help for their young signal caller Derek Carr, could be inclined to moving back to select Amari Cooper, Kevin White, or Devante Parker at number nine while also picking up two extra picks in the process.
Meanwhile, the Giants leapfrog the division rival Washington Redskins and pluck the talented defender away from them.
Giving up a first round pick is always a tough pill to swallow, but when you are dealing with exchanging what will hopefully be a mid to late round selection next year for the draft’s best player this is a no brainer deal. Williams has the physical tools, football instincts, and athleticism to be a rookie Pro Bowler.
A move like this could secure them the franchise cornerstone they need to extend Eli Manning’s career and spark at least one more Super Bowl run before Manning hangs up the cleats.