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Quinnen Williams named top defensive breakout candidate by PFF

Quinnen Williams is a top breakout candidate at PFF.
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PFF has selected New York Jets DT Quinnen Williams as one of the NFL’s top defensive breakout candidates in 2021.

Pro Football Focus continues to heap praise in the direction of the New York Jets‘ young core.

After naming wide receiver Denzel Mims as one of the NFL’s top offensive breakout candidates, PFF chose third-year defensive tackle Quinnen Williams as one of the biggest up-and-coming stars on the defensive side of the football.

In a video shared by the Jets’ YouTube channel, PFF explains why Williams is one of their favorite candidates to enjoy a much-improved 2021 season on defense.

“There’s an argument to be made that Williams broke out last season, but this is the year he’s primed to become a star,” the video says.

“Williams had the No. 13 PFF grade among interior defensive linemen in 2020, including a top-10 mark against the run and a No. 17 ranking as a pass rusher. He took big steps forward in both areas after an average rookie season, and he has even more room to grow in 2021.

Going deeper into Williams’ skill set, the narrator explains, “Williams is one of the best in the league at finishing plays in the run game, exactly what he showed while dominating in college at Alabama. And, he has 50-pressure potential as a pass rusher in Robert Saleh‘s defensive system.”

The selection of Williams is high praise from PFF, as they acknowledge that he already reached an upper-echelon level in 2020 but still think that he can get even better.

According to PFF, Williams led all IDL with 2.2 run stops per game in 2020. He was also great as a pass rusher, ranking 12th with 3.0 pressures per game.

Williams’ production in the latter half of the 2020 season exemplified how much higher he can still climb.

From Week 7 onward (a span in which Williams played 7 games), Williams ranked second at his position in run stops per game (2.1) and third in pressures per game (4.4). His combined total of 6.5 run stops and pressures per game trailed only Aaron Donald among IDL over that span.

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In the video, PFF mentioned the 50-pressure mark as a ceiling that Williams could hit. That is typically a strong benchmark to reach the “elite” tier as an interior pass rusher. Williams had 39 pressures in 2020, ranking 17th at the position. A total of 50 pressures would have tied for ninth-best at the position.

However, Williams missed three games. If he maintained his season average of 3.0 pressures per game over 16 games, he would have had 48 pressures (that would have ranked 11th among IDL in 2020).

It’s Williams’ seven-game finish to 2020 that showcases the exorbitant untapped pass-rushing potential that PFF sees in him. If Williams maintained an average of 4.4 pressures per game (the average he posted over his final 7 games of 2020) over 16 games, he would earn 70 pressures, which would have ranked third-best among IDL in 2020 (trailing Donald and Stephon Tuitt).

The best still may be yet to come for the third overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.

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