USC defensive end Leonard Williams, widely regarded as one of the top talents in the 2015 NFL draft, may just fall to the Chicago Bears with the seventh overall pick.
Williams is regarded as the best player in the draft class by ESPN’s Mel Kiper, and he’s the second-best player per ESPN’s Todd McShay.
McShay released his latest mock draft Wednesday and projected Williams to fall to the Bears at No. 7.
To be clear: Williams dropping to No. 7 here has nothing to do with my opinion of him as a player. He’s the No. 2 prospect on my board and I’ve had him ranked as one of the top players in this class since the preseason. But this scenario does show how he has the potential to drop a little bit if he gets out of the top two picks based on the needs of teams picking third through seventh. He wouldn’t fill a huge need for the Bears, but at this point he’s too good of a value for them to pass up, especially given how bad their defense has been the past two seasons. The Chicago Bears ranked 31st in the league in scoring defense? That’s just not right. Williams is an impact run-stopper and above-average interior pass-rusher who can play multiple roles in different schemes. If Williams isn’t available here, then WR Kevin White would be the pick.
Williams would be a coup for the Bears at that spot.
Sports Illustrated’s Doug Farrar released his own mock draft Wednesday and projected the same scenario at No. 7.
Some will tell you that Williams is the best player in this draft class, while others don’t see it. What the tape shows is a great two-gap end who can play all over the formation, and he’d be a great fit in the system run by new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Fangio prefers linemen who can move all around and disrupt—that’s why the Bears signed former Ravens Swiss Army knife Pernell McPhee to a five-year, $39 million contract this offseason—and Williams fits that bill perfectly. He’s not quite as big as Justin Smith, who alternated between tackle and end in San Francisco’s base and situational fronts, but he’s already played everywhere from one-tech to end with impressive consistency.
Williams, a 6-4, 302-pound defensive end out of USC, had 71 tackles, six sacks and an interception in 2014. Here’s his ESPN player card.