Philadelphia Eagles: Is Connor Williams the Eagles next left tackle?

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

Connor Williams will enter the 2018 Draft as one of the most intriguing left tackle prospects in the past few years.

When looking back at Charlie Strong‘s tenure at the University of Texas, the biggest gem of his three recruiting classes in Austin has to be Connor Williams.

Williams, a three-star recruit from Coppell, Texas broke into the Longhorns’ starting lineup as a freshman and never looked back. As a key cog in Strong’s offensive, Williams helped to pave the way in 2016 for the nation’s leading rusher D’Onta Foreman, the 2016 Doak Walker award winner, and a future third-round pick

The 6-foot-6, 310 pound mammoth of a man came into the 2017 college football season with gargantuan expectation, but Williams’ season was cut short when he injured his MCL and PCL against USC on September 16 and missed the next 10 games. Though he did return for the Longhorns’ Week 12 bout against West Virginia, Williams’ 2017 season didn’t measure up to his 2016 season due to injuries and spotty play when he was healthy. Though Williams does have stellar 2016 tape, the question that will keep coming up through the draft process is, which Williams will a team get if they select the Longhorn? Will it be the uber-clean 2016 blue-chip prospect or damaged goods?

Additionally, Williams left Texas early, prompting some to wonder why he didn’t stay in school to erase any doubts from his 2017 tape.

As a prospect, Williams boasts tremendous feet and a quick release coming out of his two-point stance. Because Texas ran the majority of their plays out of the shotgun formation, Williams has little experience coming out of a three-point stance, but his quickness and broad frame insures that the Longhorn doesn’t need to lunge at edge rushers and can consistently run them past the quarterback.

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And in the running game, Williams has fast hands and can engage with defensive lineman quickly. Williams consistently gets to the second level and can absolutely wased out linebackers when opening holes.

Though he’s considered one of the better tackle prospects in the entire 2018 NFL Draft, teams will question William’s injury history, if he can control his mean streak, and his ability to face off against elite NFL defensive ends one-on-one, as he only faced one NFL caliber end during the 2017 season while playing in the Big 12. Williams lined up against future NFL-starter Rasheem Green for much of the team’s Week 3 loss to USC and fared decently well against a USC defensive line that tallied 5 sacks in a Longhorn overtime loss.

Philadelphia Eagles Texas
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Why he’s a fit with the Philadelphia Eagles

As of right now, the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles hold six picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, the 32nd selection overall selection, a pair fourth-round picks, a pair of fifth-round picks and a sixth-round pick. With all of this draft capital, the Eagles have the freedom to move around in the draft as they please and could also use Nick Foles as a viable trade chip. If the Eagles do decide to do Foles a favor and trade him, the early speculation is that the Eagles could receive a day two pick for the Super Bowl MVP.

Will Williams fall to 32? Only time will tell, but as of now, the Eagles could have a legitimate shot at Williams in the first round.

While Lane Johnson is cemented on the right side of the Eagles’ offensive line for the next five-to-ten years, their left tackle position remains one of team’s few question marks moving forward. Perennial starter Jason Peters is coming off a devastating knee injury and at his age, one has to wonder if he’ll be able to return in 2018, and if he is able to return, what level will he be able to perform at?

Selecting Williams could not only alleviate that concern for the Eagles in 2018, but could also provide the team a long-term solution at left tackle for years to come. If Peters does come back in 2018, the Eagles could use Williams at the left guard position to get him on the field early or use him as their first lineman off the bench while learning from one of the game’s best left tackles.

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And if Peters does decide to hang up his cleats, the Eagles can choose to either continue to start Super Bowl starter Halapoulivaati Vaitai on the left side or move him to guard and start Williams from day one.

Protecting Carson Wentz has to be the number one concern for the Eagles moving forward, and keeping their franchise QB up-right for a decade will only be possible if the Eagles are able to replenish and reload their offensive line year-in and year-out

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