A new one is that of Cynthia Frelund, an analytics expert with NFL.com that has the Arizona Cardinals taking one of the three options for the team that we’ve discussed…
Quinnen Williams - DT
School: Alabama | Year: Junior (RS)
At Alabama last season, Williams recorded eight sacks and 71 tackles (19.5 for loss). If we look deeper, we see that, despite being double-teamed at the highest rate in the SEC, he was the most effective interior defender BOTH at stopping the run (42 stops, most among interior defenders, per Pro Football Focus) and defending the pass (56 pressures per PFF, also the most in his position group). As I told you, I create a multi-season model, and Williams has a top-five rating in the sample for his position compared to the projections of past players. Remember also that, as passing -- especially quick passing -- becomes more prevalent, the value of this position rises. Williams’ multiple capabilities would help the Cardinals address their league-worst red-zone passer rating and completion percentage allowed last season (122.5 and 73.7 percent). Setting aside the long-term implications of what Arizona decides to do with the quarterback position, my model has Arizona winning more games in 2019 with incumbent Josh Rosen starting at QB and Williams on the team than it does with Kyler Murray starting at QB and no first-round upgrade coming on defense.
This makes a lot of sense for Frelund’s analytics model as the Arizona Cardinals biggest need still remains along the defensive line.
The Cardinals signed Darius Philon and still have Corey Peters, but they’d be hard pressed to find enough talent to not only fill the third starting position but also help play the other 40% of snaps behind Philon and Peters.
So, adding Williams makes sense, it’s a nice marriage of need and talent, but these types of pieces also are dangerous.
When you look at how the draft plays out, analytics model’s find the biggest hole on a team and then fill that hole with the best player at that need position all other things equal.
That’s how you end up with Deandre Baker as the second pick, as the 49ers need help at cornerback.
It’s definitely a possibility, but Williams would be the first defensive tackle taken first overall since 1994. We’ll see if the Cardinals go that route.