10 possible Patriots: Jesse Williams

With the NFL draft closing in, ESPNBoston.com is narrowing its list of prospects that it projects as the best fits for the Patriots at areas that seem likely the club could target:

Player: Jesse Williams

School: Alabama

Position: Defensive tackle

Listed height/weight: 6-foot-3, 323 pounds

Scouts Inc. rank: 7th (scouting report)

Draft projection: Second round

Why he’s on our list: In a draft that is considered deep along the defensive line, Williams is a bigger-bodied tackle who played under former Bill Belichick assistant Nick Saban. With Vince Wilfork (31) and Tommy Kelly (32) having two years remaining on their contracts, and Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick scheduled for unrestricted free agency after the 2013 season, thinking to the future is likely to be part of the Patriots’ mindset. Williams has potential to be a rock in the middle for years to come.

Recommended link: Andrew Gribble from the Birmingham News writes on Williams’ strength and speed from Alabama's Pro Day.

Key stat: Didn’t miss a start over the last two seasons with Alabama.

Workout stat: Timed at 4.9 in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day.

Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.: “His backstory is interesting. A native of Brisbane, Australia he grew up playing rugby and took up football when he was 14-years old. He signed with Hawaii in 2008 but he had a falling out with the program and he attended Western Arizona Community College for two years before transferring to Alabama in 2011. In terms of the measurables, a right knee injury prevented him from running at the Combine but he reportedly ran in the 4.9s at his Pro Day. At 6033 and 323 pounds that’s an impressive time. He was able to bench and he put up 225 pounds a respectable 30 times in Indianapolis. In terms of the film, he is scheme versatile but he is a prototypical 4-3 nose tackle at his best stopping the run. He rarely gives ground one-on-one and he can get off blocks in time to make the play. Teams don’t have to take him off the field on third down either. Though he doesn’t show the ability to consistently win with his first step and shoot gaps he is an effective bull rusher who can move quarterbacks off the spot and he closes well when he gets a clear path to the quarterback. He also has what defensive line coaches covet and that’s a great motor. He flies around the field whether he’s chasing the run or rushing the passer. One last point worth mentioning is he has had problems staying healthy and durability concerns could cause him to slide a bit.”