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How Jonah Williams Compares to 2020 Offensive Line Prospects

Cincinnati Bengals, Jonah Williams (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals, Jonah Williams (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Bengals will be getting 2019 first-round pick, Jonah Williams, back from injury. Here, we look at how he’d rank among the 2020 prospect class.

The entirety of the football world is locked in on the Cincinnati Bengal’s likely 2020 first-round pick, Joe Burrow. However, many are forgetting about their first selection from 2019, tackle Jonah Williams, whose rookie campaign was cut short to injury before it even started.

The front office selected Williams with the 11th overall pick, making him the first offensive lineman selected in the draft. The former Alabama stand-out was expected to step in right away and anchor the floundering offensive trenches. Now fully healthy, his role becomes even more important, as he’ll be tasked with protecting the blind-side of the new face of the franchise.

Many view Williams lost rookie season as the Bengals essentially having two first-round selections this year. This perspective begs the question: If Williams were in this draft class, where would he rank?

The consensus group of top offensive tackles in this year’s draft consists of Tristan Wirfs, Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills, and Mekhi Becton. NFL draft analyst, Lance Zierlen, has each of them highly graded, according to his scale, which spans from 5.0-8.0.

  • Andrew Thomas- 6.49
  • Tristan Wirfs- 6.48
  • Mekhi Becton- 6.74
  • Jedrick Wills- 6.85

This puts each of them in a category of “year 1 quality starter”, or just below it. Jonah Williams earned a grade of 6.70, which would make him the third offensive tackle prospect in this class, all things being equal.

Strictly looking at their combine numbers and measurements, Williams would probably be ranked last among this group. He’s the lightest, with the shortest arms, a red flag for some scouts. However, as Zac Taylor pointed out at the combine this year, the game tape is always king. Using that as the primary ranking tool, it’s difficult to place anybody over Williams.

It’s also worth noting that Williams and Wills were teammates at Alabama for multiple seasons. In Williams’ final year, he won the left tackle job, usually reserved for the better of the two starting bookends, while Wills manned the right side. For all of the concerns surrounding Williams’ measurements, he was tapped by Nick Saban to take on the SEC’s best over Wills, who has the top grade in this class, according to most.

Finally, looking at how each ranked in big boards for their respective classes can help determine where Williams would stack up. Keep in mind the 2020 big boards aren’t set in stone yet, with the draft still over a month away. Still, the overall order shouldn’t change too drastically.

Here is the average big board position using the NFL’s, CBS Sport’s, Pro Football Focus’, and Bleacher Report’s rankings:

  • Jonah Williams- 8.75
  • Andrew Thomas- 16.5
  • Tristan Wirfs- 13.75
  • Mekhi Becton- 28.75*
  • Jedrick Wills- 9.25

*Pro Football Focus had Becton ranked much lower than the other three big boards, causing his average position to be skewed. Discounting their ranking, Becton averaged a position of 16.

Of course, this is no sure-fire way to compare Williams to this year’s class because they’re being ranked against entirely different pools of players. However, working around the assumption that each draft class offers roughly the same amount of high-end talent, it can provide some information. So, using these stats, Jonah Williams would be the highest-ranked.

Overall, there may be no way to say for certain where Williams would rank when stacked up against the top offensive tackles from 2020 unless he was actually in the class. Solely using these metrics, there’s a good chance he would be the first or second-ranked prospect out of this group of five. Thankfully, he’ll get a chance to put the speculation to rest soon, when he suits up for the Bengals for the first time in September.

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For fans who want to view the return of Williams as an extra first-round pick, he’d likely be taken in the top-15 this year, and perhaps even in the top-10. Getting a Heisman-winning quarterback at number one, and a starting-caliber left tackle should have those residing in Cincinnati optimistic.

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