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Alabama Crimson Tide

Quinnen Williams snubbed as SEC’s top defensive player

On a defense packed with freakish athleticism and future NFL players, Quinnen Williams’ viciousness and versatility stands out among his peers.

That’s why Monday’s news of Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors comes as a bit of a shock for Alabama’s third-year sophomore, who’s widely-considered college football’s most dominant defender overall.

“It’s impossible to knock the year Josh Allen has had because we’re talking about a guy who led the SEC in both sacks and tackles for loss,” BamaOnline analyst Travis Reier said. “What I will say is that compared to the SEC defensive player of the year campaign another Allen had for UA in 2016, Quinnen Williams has already surpassed Jonathan Allen’s 15-game tackles for loss total (16) from two seasons ago. With 8.5 sacks to his credit and at least another game to go, Williams also has a decent chance to exceed Allen’s senior-season sack output (10.5).”

According to the scouts and film gurus at Pro Football Focus, Williams finished the season with the highest grade among all defensive players nationally at 95.8 overall. His endless motor and snap-to-snap expertise in the trenches is a primary reason Williams is being mentioned among a few select others as a possible No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

In his first full season as a starter at defensive tackle, Williams managed 18.0 tackles for loss — second only to Allen — and eight sacks, all while facing constant double-teams from opposing fronts. Williams was destructive in Saturday’s SEC Championship win over Georgia, making his presence felt early with a tear-down of Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm on the third play from scrimmage.

“That kid couldn’t even get on the field last year,” one SEC assistant told Sports Illustrated. “You look up and nobody in the f—— country can block him.”

Offensive coordinators tried their best to run away from No. 92 this season, knowing there was a strong possibility he’d blow up the play before it began.

“In terms of just SEC play, Williams’ TFL (13.5) and sacks (seven) numbers were greater in 2018 than what Allen (eight TFLs and 5.5 sacks) posted two years ago,” Reier said. “Williams was little bit more off the radar than Josh Allen coming into the season, but he still made a hell of a race of it. As far as preference goes, it probably comes down to whether you value an interior guy or edge guy more.

“If you think it all starts in the vicinity of the snap, Williams is probably your guy. In what was known as the year of the defensive lineman in the SEC and elsewhere in college football, you can’t go wrong with either guy.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said in November he expects Williams to be in the conversation for the first selection alongside Ohio State’s Nick Bosa and Houston’s Ed Oliver.

“We thought Raekwon Davis would be the dominator, moving in for Da’Ron Payne and of course we had Jonathan Allen a couple years ago, but Williams is closer to Aaron Donald than I think Ed Oliver is,” Kiper said a SportsCenter appearance. “I think Oliver from Houston was expected to be that (Aaron Donald) guy, but he’s not as big as Williams and of course he had the injury and doesn’t have the sack production Williams already has had.

“Williams has been killing double teams. He’s a big effort guy. Great hand usage. He combines power with quickness. Quinnen Williams, the nose tackle for Alabama, has done a heck of a job and has really been the difference-maker up front for the Crimson Tide.”

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