We have officially entered Draft Week! The 2020 NFL Draft kicks off this Thursday, April 23 and runs through Saturday, April 25. As we continue to march along with our draft profile series, our next Michigan State Spartans prospect is defensive tackle Raequan Williams — a projected Day Three pick.
Williams was a fan favorite in East Lansing for many reasons. He was an iron man, starting 42 consecutive games at nose tackle for MSU and earning all kinds of accolades in the process. He also is a young man who has had to overcome an unfair amount of tragedy and adversity in his life. Now he looks to bring his talents on the gridiron to an NFL franchise.
Name: Raequan Williams
Position: defensive tackle
Weight: 308 pounds
Draft Projection: Fifth through seventh rounds
NFL Scouting Combine Measurables:
40-yard dash: 5.04 seconds (29th among DL)
Bench press: 17 reps (tied for last amongst DL at 37th)
Vertical jump: 25.5 inches (tied for last among DL at 31st)
Broad jump: 101 inches (28th among DL)
Three-cone drill: 7.72 seconds (17th among DL)
20-yard shuttle: 4.78 seconds (19th among DL)
Williams tested in every notable drill, but didn’t rank very highly in any particular drill compared to the rest of his position group. He tied for last in both the bench press and vertical jump. His 17 bench press reps jumps out in particular, as that is the same amount of reps his 185-pound teammate, cornerback Josiah Scott, put up. With all of that said, Williams didn’t hurt his stock by much in Indianapolis, as he still has plenty of strong game tape and his projection remains as a late Day Three pick. He moved well for a 308-pound defensive lineman during his on-field positional drills, and I’m sure his infectious personality scored highly in the interviews portion.
Due to low testing numbers at the Combine, Williams inevitably received a fairly low Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 4.94. That number puts Williams in the 49.4 percentile for all defensive linemen. I don’t think this tells the whole story on Williams, though, as he’s shown his versatility and ability to move quickly from the interior on several occasions.
Raequan Williams is a DT prospect in the 2020 draft class out of Michigan State.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 1, 2020
He posted an okay #RAS with good size, good speed, poor explosiveness, poor agility at the DT position.https://t.co/AHTOd8CrBz pic.twitter.com/0p3MnQiNyl
Statistics and Accolades
Games Played: 50 (42 starts)
Total Tackles: 160
Tackles For Loss: 29
Passes Defended: Eight
Forced Fumbles: Three
- Earned Associated Press first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2019
- Earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from the media and third-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches in 2019
- Earned Associated Press first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2018
- Earned third-team All-Big Ten honors from the, media, coaches, Athlon Sports and Phil Steele in 2018
- Earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention recognition by the media in 2017
- Named MSU’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree and also received the team’s Clarence Underwood Sportsmanship Award in 2019
- Started 42 consecutive games at nose tackle (longest streak for a position player in Mark Dantonio era)
- Won team’s “Iron Man Award” (for strength and conditioning) in three consecutive seasons from 2017 through 2019.
- Won MSU’s Outstanding Underclass Lineman Award for defense in 2018
- Won MSU’s Tommy Love Award (most improved player) for defense as a freshman in 2016
- Earned honorable mention recognition on the Big Ten Network’s All-Freshman team in 2016
- Played in the 2020 East-West Shrine Game
- Team captain in 2019
- Three-time member of the MSU’s Eagles leadership council
For Williams to be where he is right now is the true definition of a success story. From growing up in a rough Chicago neighborhood with a young mother (who is his role model), to the tragic deaths of his family members (including his brother) to now being in a position to make it to the NFL is truly inspiring.
Williams recently had this to say about upbringing, via USA Today’s DraftWire:
“I found the strength in my mother. She’s the best role model I could ever ask for. I know that she had a tough life growing up. She’s always been so strong. She’s living proof that anything is possible. She had me when she was 14 years old. The fact that I’m even in this position, I beat the odds. It’s kind of crazy. Statistically speaking, there’s no way that I was supposed to make it in life. People don’t make it where I come from. The background that I have, we’re against the odds. But here I am. I’m here. It shows me that anything is possible. I’m striving for greatness.”
Williams earned All-Big Ten recognition in each of the past three seasons. He is likely to be drafted late on Day Three, in the sixth or seventh rounds (possibly the fifth round). While he didn’t necessarily impress at the Combine, he projects well as a run-stuffing defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme — Williams was a big reason for the success Michigan State’s run defense has enjoyed over the past three seasons, ranking in the top 15 in the nation in each, and top-two in 2017 and 2018. He could possibly even slot in as a true nose guard in a 3-4 scheme. His streak of 42 consecutive starts is going to be attractive NFL teams and shows his toughness. He’ll have the opportunity to make an initial 53-man roster as a backup/rotational interior defensive lineman and then have the chance to eventually earn a starting spot.
What scouts, analysts and coaches are saying about Williams:
“Grade will likely be tied to specific positional fit for each organization. Williams is long-legged and plays with below-average bend and twitch. He struggles to hold the point versus angle blocks but shows an ability to get skinny and disrupt in the backfield. He’s not as long as he looks but has versatility to play in odd or even fronts at a variety of spots. His bull rush generates pocket push and might translate, but he needs to keep adding strength and counters to diversify his rush plan. He’s a backup-caliber interior defender worthy of a Day 3 selection.” — NFL.com Draft Analyst, Lance Zierlein
“Raequan Williams projects as a viable depth defender along the defensive front. His athletic ceiling looms large as a barrier to him garnering significant snaps without some injuries to a team’s defensive line group, but Williams’ ability to line up in the A or B gap and provide modest results should offer roster value as a depth player. Some savvy navigation of the offensive backfield has produced splash plays but his play is intermittent and littered with poor anchoring at the POA.” — Kyle Crabbs, Senior Draft Analyst for The Draft Network
“Outstanding week. He played with great energy and hunger. Plus, he was an excellent teammate; the guys loved him.” NFL scout who attended the East-West Shrine Game practices.
“Can play the one and the three technique. He’s got the ability to collapse the pocket. He’s all power and bull rush. He just doesn’t have a great get-off and he’s a little bit stiff.”— NFL Network Draft Analyst, Daniel Jeremiah
“He can collapse the pocket. I thought he got washed by angle blocks. He’s another one that I didn’t think had big-time get-off burst. He’s got the ability to kind of control the rifts and do some things there with his hand fighting.” — Also NFL Network Draft Analyst, Daniel Jeremiah
Speaking about potential good finds on day three of the draft, Mel Kiper Jr. includes Raequan Williams Says he likes the way he moves.— Matt Wenzel (@mwenzel2) April 15, 2020
Check out an additional short highlight video at patriots.com.