099 Trevardo Williams DE 2013 draft prospect David Butler II-USATS

Colts Draft Targets – Trevardo Williams vs Chase Thomas

Sep 8, 2012; East Hartford, CT, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon (8) is sacked by Connecticut Huskies defensive end Trevardo Williams (48) during the first half at Rentschler Field. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite adding Erik Walden and Lawrence Sidbury to their pass rushing options, the Colts are still somewhat short at outside linebacker. Walden was graded as Pro Football Focus' worst linebacker in the league for two seasons running, whilst Sidbury made just 17 tackles for the Atlanta Falcons after being drafted in 2009. His 1 year, $715,000 contract suggests a "show us what you can do" deal for a player that general manager Ryan Grigson was a fan of coming out of the University of Richmond.

Meanwhile, 2010 first round draft pick Jerry Hughes continues to be ineffectual even in a 3-4 defense, and veteran sack machine Robert Mathis has just turned 32. No matter where you look in this team, the pass rushing options have question marks looming over them.

And although head coach Chuck Pagano insists that he "feels good" about the pass rushing options he has at his disposal, you would imagine that the Colts look to add another in the draft.

The first round may be an option if Damontre Moore, Jarvis Jones or Barkevious Mingo fall to them, or if they reach for someone like Auburn's Corey Lemonier, but it's more likely that they target someone in the 3rd or 4th round – remember, the Colts don't have a pick in the 2nd or 5th rounds.

Two options that may prove attractive are Connecticut's Trevardo Williams, and someone that offensive co-ordinator Pep Hamilton will be familiar with from his time at Stanford, Chase Thomas.

Both players have been very productive in college; Williams racked up over 30 sacks and 40 tackles for losses during his time at Connecticut, and Thomas came up with 27.5 sacks and over 50 tackles for losses, but college production doesn't always translate to the NFL.

 

Trevardo Williams

Williams is evidently undersized as soon as you see him play. At 6ft 1in, 241lbs, Williams really is on the small side as a pass rusher – though, the aforementioned Mathis serves as a poster boy for undersized pass rushers. What Williams does possess is terrific athleticism – which he displayed at the Combine with a 4.57 40 yard dash, and it's this speed that has been terrorizing offensive tackles over the last few years.

However, in this play against Louisville, Williams exhibits some power to go with his speed.

Rather than try and go around the edge, Williams is going to move inside to rush quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Initially he's matched up with the left tackle, and he's immediately off balance as Williams' speed gives him a quick advantage.

Williams is then double teamed by the guard and tackle, but Williams keeps driving, pushing both of them back towards Bridgewater.

But once the Connecticut defensive tackle (#53) makes a move to the outside, it drags the tackle with him, leaving Williams one on one with the guard. Williams inevitably beats the guard to make a sack.

For a player who is generally classed as undersized, Williams showed that he can play with strength and power, rather than being a one dimensional, outside pass rusher.

On the very next play of the game, Williams did what he does best – get around the edge. Lined up in a wide position, Williams' aim is to simply bend and get around the corner, and use his phenomenal closing speed to make another sack.

This is where Williams can be a game changing pass rusher, as he flies past the tackle, gets around the corner and gets his second sack in consecutive plays.

This is just a very small sample size of Williams' time at Connecticut, but his reputation as a speed rushing force is well earned. However, he almost never drops into coverage and isn't effective against the run. He would offer a pure pass rushing option as scheduled starter Erik Walden is seemingly starting for his ability to stop the run.

 

Chase Thomas

Hey – the Colts wouldn't more Stanford players would they? Hmm, well, they just might, especially with their former offensive co-ordinator Pep Hamilton now with the Colts. Outside linebacker Chase Thomas is a player with great football IQ and a high motor, two things that Grigson loves in players.

Thomas is strong against the run and it showed in a couple of plays against Notre Dame – particularly the one below.

Lining up further inside than usual, Thomas is playing contain, where he can show his run stopping ability against mobile quarterback Everett Golson and running back Theo Riddick.

Thomas keeps his eyes in the backfield and quickly diagnoses the play.

Thomas makes his way over and produces a good tackle to prevent a big gain. His understanding of his role was evident as he kept his eyes on the ball carrier, found the ball and made a play.

One of Thomas' main attributes is his ability to shed blockers and disengage to make plays, and this helps him to be an effective pass rusher too. In this play, Thomas is going to fake an outside speed rush and instead try to get inside the blocker to make a play.

Thomas engages with the blocker and pushes him aside to begin the move.

The next move is to pull the blocker's shirt (with his left hand) and to get his right arm over the top to disengage from him and get into the backfield.

Thomas executes the move to perfection, gaining leverage on the blocker and giving himself a free run at Golson, who just manages to throw the ball away under pressure. This type of pressure won't show up on the stat sheet, but Thomas provides pressure off the edge consistently. He's not a fantastic athlete and doesn't possess great speed, but he's polished, understands his role and hustles on every single play.

The two players shown here are very different. Williams is a speed rusher who has great athleticism, whereas Thomas is a high-motor, technically sound player. Both are mid-round prospects, though Thomas is more likely to be available in the fourth round, with Williams a likely third round pick.

If Pagano's mantra of "run the ball, stop the run" holds true, and Grigson maintains the "snap-to-whistle" mentality, then Thomas might just be the better fit. 

 

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