Jets take Alabama DT Williams with 3rd pick

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- After intense speculation about the possibility of a trade, the New York Jets kept the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft and used it Thursday night to select defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.

With quarterback Kyler Murray and defensive end Nick Bosa off the board, the Jets -- 29th in scoring defense last season -- opted for Williams over outside linebacker Josh Allen and defensive tackle Ed Oliver. Williams becomes the highest-drafted defensive player in franchise history.

"You combine the technique, you combine the instincts, you combine the athletic ability, I think he has the parts and pieces to be a really good player," general manager Mike Maccagnan said.

Maccagnan spoke to several teams before the draft and on the clock about a potential trade, but he said "there was never an offer" that tempted him. Williams was believed to be the second-rated player on their draft board, behind Bosa.

The pass-rushing Allen would've filled a pressing need, but Maccagnan felt Williams' value was too high to pass up. Sound familiar?

In 2015, the Jets felt the same way about defensive end Leonard Williams (no relation) when he unexpectedly fell to them with the sixth pick. Williams and Williams are now teammates, playing under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

"I'm coming in to be a dominant player up front and be a dominant player in general," Quinnen Williams said. "I know for sure Leonard Williams is a dominating player all around the board. Together, we can do anything (if) we work our butts off."

The addition of the former Alabama star could spark trade speculation regarding Leonard Williams, but Maccagnan downplayed that notion, insisting the plan is to pair the Williams duo. Leonard is entering the final year of his rookie contract, due to make a guaranteed $14.2 million.

Since 2011, the Jets have picked a defensive lineman five times in the first round. The others: Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson, Williams and Williams. Wilkerson, Coples and Richardson no longer are on the team.

For Quinnen Williams, this capped a remarkable year. He began last season in relative obscurity, as he had played only 151 defensive snaps before 2018. He blossomed into one of the most dominant defensive players in the country after replacing Daron Payne, a first-round pick of the Washington Redskins last year.

An imposing blend of power and quickness, Williams finished last season with 70 tackles, seven sacks and a team-high 18.5 tackles-for-loss. He was a unanimous All-America selection and was named the winner of the Outland Trophy as the nation's top interior lineman.

He solidified his draft status at the NFL scouting combine, where he ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.83 seconds at 6-foot-3, 303 pounds. With no injury concerns and no off-the-field issues, Williams was regarded as perhaps the safest prospect in the draft.

Defensively, the Jets have declined in recent years, but they should be significantly improved with the additions of Williams and Pro Bowl middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, who left the Baltimore Ravens as a free agent. They also have Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, the sixth overall pick in 2017.

They still have a need at outside linebacker, which made Allen (17 sacks last season for Kentucky) seem like a logical option.

"When you factor (need) into your evaluation process, you run the risk of potentially making a mistake," Maccagnan said.

The question now is how they will split up the playing time in their 3-4 base front. Williams joins a veteran group that includes returning starters Leonard Williams, Henry Anderson and nose tackle Steve McLendon.

Anderson re-signed in March, receiving a three-year, $25.2 million contract that includes a $17 million guarantee. Williams is making a guaranteed $14.2 million in the final year of his contract and appears to be in line for a long-term extension. With Quinnen Williams on board, they will have one of the highest-paid defensive lines in the league.

"I think they're building a huge defense, just by bringing in C.J. Mosley, with Jamal Adams on the back end, and you're building up a massive defensive line up front," Quinnen Williams said. "It sounds like a great defense."