2018 NFL Draft: OT Connor Williams should be a top 15 pick

(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

Quarterbacks are front and center at the top of the 2018 NFL Draft, but Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams belongs in the mix as well.

More: 2018 NFL Draft preview, player profiles and latest mock drafts

Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 320 pounds, Connor Williams looks like an NFL left tackle. He plays like it too. An unheralded recruit out of high school, Williams forced himself onto the nation radar after starting every game of his freshman season in Austin.

Since then Williams has been front and center on NFL Draft boards. He and fellow Big 12 product Orlando Brown were vying to be the first offensive tackle off the board this year, but a putrid NFL Combine performance from Brown has tilted the odds in favor of Williams.

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A three-year starter at Texas, Williams brought in just about every accolade he could earn. A consensus All-American in 2016, Williams was on track to repeat before injuries hampered his final collegiate season. Still, there’s a reason why the media and the NFL are high on Williams.

Williams has drawn rave reviews for his work ethic and technique. He’s excellent at understanding what his opponent is trying to do and expertly redirects pressure away from the quarterback. His footwork is seamless and not many rushers are able to beat him to either side. There are few tackles at the collegiate level as fundamentally sound as Williams, making the learning curve up towards the next level less steep than most.


Knee and leg injuries are particularly concerning when it comes to offensive lineman. Those big men carry so much weight on their joints and the risk of injuries only heightens with every incident. Williams was obviously not himself in 2017, even when he was on the field. Whether its injuries or some sort of regression, the peak of his abilities was not on display last season.

As for technique, Williams was able to push around the majority of pass rushers that lined up against him in school. That’s not going to be the case in the NFL, bringing his arm length into question. His 33 inch arms were in the bottom 40 percentile of the offensive lineman invited to the NFL Combine, less than ideal for a potential first round pick.

Short arms make it difficult to recover when a player takes a bad first step. They also further challenge his ability to catch an edge rusher off the line of scrimmage. It’s not a fatal flaw, but it’s not ideal either.

Next: Latest first round NFL Mock Draft post Combine

Draft expectations

Measurables aside, Connor Williams is a talented football player. If he can get healthy again his upside is considerable. His floor projects to be a solid multi-year starter in the NFL, possibly at guard if his length proves to be too challenging to continue playing on the outside.

Projection: Middle of the first round