What if we consider PJ Williams and Davis Tull as extra draft picks this year? After having watched many Saints drafts over the years, it always irks me just a little bit when the team trades away picks to move up in the draft. This year was no different – enter with six picks, finish up with five. In a way I like the aggressiveness, if you really like a player you go get him but I also like the odds of more numbers–more chances to hit on a prospect.
After reflecting on this year’s draft (which I do like), it brought me back to last year’s draft and in particular two players that didn’t see a regular season snap–PJ Williams and Davis Tull. I look at these two as if they were freshmen in college who had to redshirt; and in my twisted way of bolstering this year’s draft, I just added them to the class of 2016.
I feel better already.
Consider PJ Williams and Davis Tull as Extra Draft Picks
When the Saints drafted Davis Tull, an outside linebacker out of Tennessee-Chattanooga, I had the same reaction as this year when they drafted David Onyemata. They drafted who? Out of all the chaotic scenarios that happen on draft da–one thing remains constant, the Saints will surprise you.
The scouting on Tull coming into the draft was that he was limited athletically but was very football smart and was relentless with his hustle–he wasn’t going to be outworked. A major knock against him was he was injured when they drafted him with a torn labrum in his shoulder.
While at the small school (FCS) Tennessee-Chattanooga, Tull played with his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 defensive end. The Saints (mainly because of his size (6-3 240)) listed him as an outside linebacker probably in a 3-4 front. Tull actually has a little bit of quickness with him running a 4.57 at his pro day. At the NFL combine Tull was tops in both the Broad jump (132 inches) and vertical Jump (42.5 inches)–so much for the naysayers complaining about his lack of athleticism.
I remember when mini camp rolled around last year, I wanted to get a better look at this intriguing prospect but what I got was him standing around (sometimes on the field with the defensive unit) but mostly just rehabbing the shoulder. This would linger into camp where he started off on the PUP list for a few weeks before being activated to the regular roster.
How will the Saints use Tull? From the limited preseason tape I saw from last year, they will probably use him as a Jack OLB on early downs and a 4-2-5 nickle defensive end on obvious passing downs. Keep in mind this is preseason, and Payton always moves guys around and cross trains them. Below is a pre-snap look at Tull in the Jack position (how many times have we seen Galette lined up like this?)
This next screen shot is of Tull in a third and long nickle passing situation as a defensive end.
I see Tull as a role player rotating in passing situations (after all he did rack up 37 sacks at UTC) but I mostly see him as quality depth at the position.
PJ Williams is a player I really liked coming out of Florida St. I remember writing last year after he tore his hamstring in training camp that Williams should be in Brandon Browners back pocket picking his brain in those film meetings. I still feel that way even after Browner who obviously lost a step became a flag magnet. The reason is they play the same type of game–physical press coverage and above average run support. Say what you want about Browner, he had a wealth of knowledge between those ears; and I hope he passed some down to the young Williams.
If Keenan Lewis, Damian Swann and Delvin Breaux stay healthy then I’m a happy man, but I give the chances of that happening 50/50 at best. Depth at cornerback is critical in this league (and no offense to Kyle Wilson who did play okay last year), the Saints need PJ Williams ready to go–waiting in the wings.
Williams’ game is man press. He jams receivers and disrupts at the line of scrimmage–throwing off the timing–and/or just plain old fashioned harassment. But he may need to adjust to just how much he can get away with in the NFL as Delvin Breaux quickly found out last year. After what Browner put the fans through last year, patience is wearing thin with flags raining down in the secondary. Below is an example of Williams playing man press coverage.
One thing that really catches my eye with Williams is his tackling in run support or bringing the wood to a receiver. Williams isn’t the biggest cornerback at 6-0 196, and he has average size but lays the hammer down playing much bigger than he is. Below is a clip of just that. In the NFL his wallet would probably be about $25,000 lighter after this hit.
Training camp will be here before we know it. Like always I’ll be watching every move of this year’s draft class but make no mistake Tull and Williams will be near the top of my watch list. To be honest I’m more excited to see if Williams can reach his potential because the NFC South has a gang of huge receivers, and the Saints are going to need a cornerback to counter their physicality. That’s a lot to ask I know.
We really haven’t seen anything yet from Williams or Tull. But if they show out, they are up to the task of making the draft class of 2015 something really special. And we are about to find out.