Williams Has Edge Over Jernigan at DT

Brandon William MTBank Practice
Image provided by Wikimedia Commons

It seems like linemen these days are more versatile than they have been in a long time. Whether a coach is talking about an offense or defense, that player is usually taught to play multiple positions. Baltimore’s groups are no exception.

Both guards (Kelechi Osemele, Marshal Yanda) can and have played right tackle, and when he was a Raven, Michael Oher seemed to see-saw between right and left tackle. Center Jeremy Zuttah could probably play both guard spots and Ryan Jensen has seen practice time at all three positions across the offensive front.

Regardless of the luxury of versatility, a coach must decide which position best fits a certain player.

For example, Haloti Ngata could play any defensive line position at a very high level. But due to the depth at defensive end and the lack of depth at nose tackle, Ngata will probably start the season at nose tackle (lined up right in front of the center).

Despite Ngata’s great talent, nose tackles are usually space-eaters and get double-teamed often, which makes me think his talent is better suited as a defensive tackle, where he can stack and shed as well as rush the passer. Obviously he will make plays wherever he lines up, but Ngata’s best position in the 3-4 is defensive tackle. He has the size of a typical nose tackle, but rare quickness which might be negated by frequent double teams.

Speaking of defensive tackle, that position is up for grabs. Arthur Jones was the starting three-technique (lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard) on Baltimore’s defense until he signed with the Colts within minutes of free agency beginning on March 11. The only other defensive tackle on Baltimore’s roster with NFL experience is Brandon Williams–Baltimore’s third-round pick from a year ago.

Though he’s only totaled six tackles in seven games, Williams did record a sack and a fumble recovery in his rookie year. He’s 6’1″, 335 pounds of muscle and is getting better, as John Harbaugh eluded to today after practice:

“Brandon has looked really good. I think he continues to get in great shape. The way he’s built, you’re not going to see that body type too much. I mean, the amount of muscle he has packed on that frame of his is pretty incredible. He’s explosive, he’s quick, but he’s playing fundamentals. I think Clarence [Brooks] has a done a great job with him. I’m looking forward to when the pads get on, you know, just to see how he does. The young defensive line looks good, right now, but, you know, we’re out here kind of running around in shorts.”

Williams, in my opinion, has the lead on his competitors because of his rare combination of size and athleticism. His strength and lateral movement give him the opportunity to create mismatches for many centers and guards. In so doing, that could enable the Ravens to run different stunts or blitzes than most teams can do, creating complex reads for opposing offenses.

But as Harbaugh said, they’re just in shorts now. Williams needs to prove it when the pads come on.

Of the five rookie defensive tackles on the roster, Williams’ main competitor figures to be Timmy Jernigan, this year’s second-round pick. Jernigan (6’2″, 298 pounds) played a lot of nose tackle in college, but due to his “lack” of size he will probably play most of his snaps as a defensive tackle.

Like Williams, Jernigan is incredibly strong, so if the Ravens wanted to they could play him at nose tackle. But I think his best position for now is defensive tackle, at least until he gets used to life as an NFL lineman.

Jernigan started on college football’s best defense last year and he anchored their defensive line. Will his talent translate? That’s the big question for any player, but for Jernigan specifically, I see no reason why it wouldn’t. He’s physical, smart and hungry to make plays. Other teams game-planned for him every week and he still shined. As a Raven, Jernigan doesn’t figure to be a high priority for the other teams, at least not immediately.

If this spot were just up for grabs between Williams and Jernigan, it would be intriguing to watch. Factor in Baltimore’s heat and humidity with four more rookies playing for their football lives, and you get one heck of a training camp battle.

Or as Harbaugh likes to put it, a situation where “iron sharpens iron.”

This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured by Mike Fast. Bookmark the permalink.

About Mike Fast

Mike Fast
I was born and raised in Baltimore. But after a year at York College of Pennsylvania, I transferred to Towson University. At York and Towson, I hosted various radio shows, wrote for the school paper, spoke on a panel RE: college game day presentation at IBS conference in Manhattan and...more

2 Raves on “Williams Has Edge Over Jernigan at DT

  1. Mike FastMike Fast on said:

    Good question. They have him listed as a DE. But I think he will continue to get better. I like where his career is going.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

evden eve nakliyat şirketleri ofis taşımacılığı evden eve nakliye istanbul evden eve nakliyat Şehirlerarası Evden Eve Nakliyat İstanbul Nakliyat Firmaları

Hot off the street

BEHIND ENEMY LINES: Burning Bridges in Pittsburgh

As we enter the heart of the training camp season, let’s dive into what’s going on around the AFC North in another edition of Behind Enemy Lines.   CLEVELAND BROWNS Austin due for a big ...read more

CAMP NOTES: Smith & Smith Cross Examine Defense

The offense took the field intent on sharpening their skills in offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's new system. It is easy to see that the Kubiak offense certainly is tight end friendly. Dennis Pit...read more

CAMP NOTES: McPhee Shines While Jackson Makes a Move

On Monday evening, the Ravens took to the field at M&T Bank Stadium for their first of three open practices of training camp. Over 28,000 Ravens fans got their first look at the 90 players hopi...read more

RAVENS LINKS: Smith, Smith & Associates

The Law Firm: Smith, Smith & Associates Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com reports Steve Smith Sr. is calling the receiving group "The Law Firm: Smith, Smith & Associates." What do you think ...read more

Jackson, Campanaro Stand Out In Sunday’s Practice

With cornerback Chykie Brown out of action today with a hamstring injury, Asa Jackson got the call. The third-year player looked sharp in outside coverage. His quickness, smooth backpedal, and anticip...read more

View More