The Bengals and the first round of the NFL Draft currently have a volatile relationship to put it mildly. A.J. Green and William Jackson have both turned out to be great picks, and every Round 1 pick between and after them can be classified from just decent to dreadful. Be it due to injuries or a mistake in value, the highest investments the Bengals have made in the draft have yielded mostly mixed results.
Jonah Williams is here to buck that trend.
Widely regarded as the best offensive tackle in this draft class, Williams became the obvious pick for the Bengals once Devin Bush went off the board to the Steelers. Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus went as far to list the pick as one of the steals of the first round and of the entire draft.
PICK 11 – T JONAH WILLIAMS, CINCINNATI BENGALS
Big Board Rank: 4th
Reason prevailed with Jonah Williams’ short arms; he was quite comfortably the top tackle prospect in this draft. Williams has history at both left and right tackle while grading out dominantly as a 21-year-old playing in the SEC. Yes, his 33 ⅝” arms and change of direction testing aren’t ideal for the position, but I’ll bet on a guy with his career trajectory and work ethic. The man keeps excel spreadsheets on all his opponents for goodness sake!
What makes Williams interesting is his upside — a term more people use then know what it means how to quantify it. For offensive tackles, Williams is a bit on the small side and not very athletic in terms of explosion and flexibility. This may put a cap on how great Williams can be at his peak, but there’s one thing you can count on with him.
He will reach the peak he’s supposed to hit.
Coming into the league at just 21 years of age with 44 starts is almost unheard of. Alabama playing in three College Football Championships during Williams’ three years in Tuscaloosa made that possible. He’s more than battle tested and Renner’s exactly right, he’s the person you bet on succeeding. He’s going to do everything he can to maximize his potential and continue to get better.
That’s far from a given regarding a first-round pick, and that’s what will make Williams one of the best picks from this draft class.