During his time at Alabama, offensive lineman Jonah Williams was often described by his teammates and coaches as a "film junkie." And if hours and hours of watching game video did not provide answers to Williams' seemingly endless list of questions, he'd look elsewhere, anywhere, for information.
“I try to out-prepare everyone,” Williams said while speaking to reporters at the NFL Combine. “I want to watch more film than everyone on the defense combined. I want to know what each player does before they do it. I want to know what their best moves are and what percentage they win on those moves, how I can combat those moves. If I don’t know how I’ll reach out to resources. I’ve had great coaches that I’ve encountered in college and some current NFL players, guys I’m trying to emulate. I’ll study Joe Thomas, see how he handles a type of rush.”
Williams' obsessive study habits stem from his competitiveness, which fueled his decision to play at Alabama over other traditional powerhouses like Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and USC. He yearned to test himself against elite defensive players daily, and playing for the Crimson Tide afforded him that chance. Going up against former Alabama defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne -- the Washington Redskins' past two first-round picks -- has helped Williams become a top draft prospect himself, with some believing the Redskins will select him with the 15th-overall pick.
“It’s cliché, but football is my life, my passion,” Williams said. “I’m extremely competitive. I want to be the best in everything that I do. That’s why I don’t have many hobbies. Other than football, I’m not great at any hobby. That’s what kind of drives me, waking up in the morning and knowing I’m going to go to work and I’m going to do something today to put myself ahead of everyone else and put myself ahead of where I’ve been. I don’t ever want to go backward.”
The Alabama Crimson Tide get their fair share of five-star recruits, and many of those recruits wait a year or two before earning considerable playing time or even becoming the starter. For Williams, that was not the case.
Williams started every game at offensive tackle during his three years at Alabama and was named All-SEC each season. As a junior, he earned first team All-SEC and first-team All-America honors before declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft.
According to the Draft Network’s Joe Marino, “Williams' balanced and smooth footwork, combined with technical refinement and excellent play strength make him an exciting prospect. While he deserves a chance to prove his lack of reach will limit him too much in the NFL, he has tremendous upside as an interior blocker. A three-year starter at Alabama, Williams has been tested against the best pass rushers college football has to offer and should be able to make an early impact in his NFL career and anchor a front five for years to come.”
Williams' versatility on the offensive line has helped make him an intriguing draft prospect. He began on the right side of the offensive live before moving over to left tackle for his final two seasons. And while he has never played guard, he seems to have the skill set to make that transition.
"I’ll play wherever a team wants me to play,” Williams said. “I want to be on the field. If they have an established left tackle and they don’t want to put me there, then I want to be on the field playing somewhere else.”
Take a look at photos from Friday March 1, 2019 at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. Photos from NFL.
One of the criticisms of Williams throughout the draft process has been his arm length, which is on the smaller side (33 ⅝ inches) compared to typical NFL offensive tackles. However, Williams does not think that should deter franchises from investing in a player who dominated at the college level.
“If you look at a lot of the really successful tackles over the past 10 years – Joe Thomas, Joe Staley, Jake Matthews, Jason Peters, La’ell Collins, Riley Reiff, Ryan Ramczyk – just a couple guys off the top of my head that have shorter arms than me,” Williams said. “I don’t think that’s necessarily a huge deal. I’m proud of the way I play. My approach to the game makes me a great player. So, if my fingers were an eighth of an inch longer, I might be good enough. I think the way that I play is what defines me as a football player. I value the opinion of those [coaches], and I think about the impression I make on the people I play against more so than speculation about statistics.”