Recently, the folks at Pro Football Focus revealed their top breakout candidates among second-year players, which included a pair of Bengals in Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins.
PFF did the same for third-year breakout candidates, which include Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams.
It would be easy to dismiss Jonah Williams as just a solid offensive lineman without factoring in that 2020 was effectively his rookie year because of injury. Offensive line is a position group where — more than any other — development typically takes two to three seasons to fully realize a player’s potential. Some high-level NFL starters were below average for multiple seasons to open their pro careers.
Williams was a good pass blocker last year, allowing just 20 total pressures across the 10 games he started. He has the type of first-round pedigree that suggests he could make good on his talent with experience. Part of the reason the Bengals elected to choose Ja’Marr Chase and not Penei Sewell at the top of the draft was likely how good they felt about Williams, who should be in line to have an impressive campaign in Year 3.
For all of the grief, Cincinnati’s offensive line has taken, Williams performed admirably in his first full NFL season, finishing with a respectable 70.1 PFF grade.
Now with another full offseason under his belt, as well as new offensive line coach Frank Pollack almost certainly being a big upgrade over Jim Turner, Williams should have a very nice season that may even establish him as one of the league’s best young left tackles.