Williams heads into a pivotal Year 4 as he looks to secure a large second contract with the Jets
Maybe the fourth time will be the charm.
In three seasons with the New York Jets, DT Quinnen Williams has played well at times. However, he has not been nearly consistent or dominant enough to justify his selection as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 draft.
As Williams heads into his fourth year with the team, contract rumors are starting to swirl. Thankfully, he has taken a very refreshing stance on the issue.
Quinnen Williams says he isn’t worried about his contract. “It’ll take care of itself.”
— DJ Bien-Aime (@Djbienaime) May 24, 2022
One reason that he isn’t in a rush is likely because he hasn’t earned a huge payday just yet.
Don’t misunderstand: Williams has been a productive player with the Jets. His 73 defensive stops and 12.5 sacks rank 5th and 6th among interior defensive linemen over the last two seasons.
Is Quinnen Williams the most underrated player on the Jets?
5th in stops (73) and 6th in sacks (12.5) since 2019 among IDL
24 years old with the 23rd highest RAS since 2000
— Stefan Stelling (@li_jets) June 1, 2022
Williams has been good, but not at the level of players like DeForest Buckner (19 sacks), Chris Jones (18 sacks), or even Leonard Williams (21 sacks). These players also rack up pressures at an elite rate.
The difference between Williams’s pressure rate, 9.42% (23rd among 114 interior defenders), and his sack rate, 1.94% (6th), is a good indicator of his inconsistency.
Thankfully, I believe Quinnen is just scratching the surface of his potential. He’s shown considerable improvement since being drafted and will likely continue to improve. Likely future Hall of Fame DT Fletcher Cox offers a very similar career trajectory.
Quinnen is just starting to enter his prime at 24 years old. Supported by the most talented defensive line and cornerback room he’s had in his career, everything is in place for him to take it to the next level.
Let’s look back at Williams’s college career and his first three seasons in the NFL. Then we’ll go into why 2022 has a chance to be the year that it finally comes together.
A historically dominant college season backed by generational athleticism
Quinnen was only the starter for one season at Alabama. However, it was a season for the ages.
His 96.0 Pro Football Focus grade in the 2018 season is the highest among all defenders since 2014. He dominated in both phases of the game using a combination of speed, skill, and strength that drew comparisons to Aaron Donald.
The best defensive player in football all season long, Quinnen Williams is going to make a HUGE impact in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/DQEAJ8fsHW
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 18, 2019
While his dominant season was enough to make him a top-10 pick, his ridiculous athleticism made him a potential generational prospect. Quinnen’s 4.83-second 40-time was the fastest combine 40-time for a 300+ pound player since 2013.
Official 40 time for Quinnen Williams: 4.83.
Looks like that’s the fastest combine 40 time for a 300+ pound guy since 2013. pic.twitter.com/dljEMjdFv1
— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) March 3, 2019
While Jordan Davis broke the record this year, Quinnen’s number was still faster than defensive end Nick Bosa, which is ridiculous to think about. Overall, he earned an elite 9.84 Relative Athletic Score (RAS), which ranked 23rd highest all-time.
Williams has the full package but stumbled as a rookie. On a struggling Jets team, Quinnen was invisible and had only a modest impact. Many started to cast doubts if he was the right pick after just one year.
In the two seasons since, Quinnen has done his best to dispel those concerns. In the second half of his sophomore season, it looked like he was well on his way to stardom.
Quinnen has flashed elite potential but needs to be consistent
Overall, Quinnen has been a top 15 defensive tackle in the last two seasons. While that’s good, it’s below the expectations for a third overall pick, especially when that player has shown the ability to be better.
In 2020, a dominant second half saw him finish with an 81.4 PFF grade, eight sacks, and 38 defensive stops (including sacks). In 2021, he started hot but fell off with the rest of the defense, only earning a 64.4 PFF grade but still adding seven sacks and 35 total defensive stops.
Neither season was complete, but both flashed his impressive upside. From Week 7 of 2020 to Week 8 of 2021 (14 games), Williams racked up 53 pressures, 11 sacks, and 23 run stops. This would be a 12.8% pressure rate, 2.7% sack rate, and 13.5% run stop rate.
In 2021, those numbers would rank 6th, 2nd, and 12th among 121 defensive tackles with at least 275 snaps. Only two players, Aaron Donald and Jeffrey Simmons, ranked in the top 25 for all three stats. Very few players in the NFL can dominate both phases of the game like Quinnen.
Unfortunately, Quinnen has yet to put together an entire season of dominance. In the other halves of the season, also 14 games, Quinnen’s number dipped to 6.1% pressure rate, 1.2% sack rate, and 12.9% run stop rate. While these numbers are similar to D.J. Jones’ in 2021, it’s well below the expectation for Quinnen.
What to expect for 2022 and beyond
Expectations are high heading into Williams’s fourth season. Supported by the most talented defensive line and cornerback room of his career, Quinnen is due for a breakout.
in Week 1 against the Ravens, Quinnen flashed the dominance that we saw when he was on fire in the past. Across 22 pass rush snaps, Quinnen racked up three pressures and a pass defended. This earned him a 92.1 PFF grade, the third-highest grade among defensive tackles in 2022 so far.
Looking ahead, Quinnen will be facing a tough challenge against Cleveland, but the schedule gradually becomes easier after that.
If he can maintain his elite pressure rate and reclaim his run-stopping prowess from the start of his career, Quinnen could set himself up for a massive payday following the season.
Quinnen Williams is under contract until 2024 due to his fifth-year option but will likely want to be paid before that point. Currently, only eight defensive tackles make over $15 million annually. If Quinnen wants to make that or even get close to $20 million, he’ll need to consistently play at a high level.
With the talent surrounding him and the flashes we’ve seen to this point, I believe that this is the year Williams will put it all together.