Aug 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (55) gets past Detroit Lions tackle Michael Williams (73) during the second quarter in a preseason NFL football game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
With LaAdrian Waddle out this preseason with a partially torn ACL the Lions will most likely need to someone else to start week one at Right Tackle. Cornelius Lucas has taken most of the first team snaps at right tackle but hasn’t looked overly impressive (see Stafford’s touchdown pass for a good example). He lacks a punch to stymie blockers and it essentially makes his reach useless. He is a poor run blocker and isn’t really a good fit at right tackle. The competition behind him is between Michael Williams and rookie Corey Robinson who mostly lined up as a left tackle in the first preseason game. They seem to be giving Michael Williams every possible chance to win the starting right tackle job, he was the only player battling for the job who exclusively lined up at right tackle. He played 56 snaps and held up very well considering it was only his second time seeing extended snaps as an offensive lineman.
Michael was almost flawless on the night in pass protection. The only play where a defender was able to make a play on the quarterback is above. He actually does a very good job of pushing the defender out wide but Kellen Moore has a very deep drop and refuses to step up into the pocket. If Kellen steps up in the pocket this would of been a successful block and we wouldn’t even be talking about this play so its not a huge negative.
One of William’s best qualities is how fast he can cover ground. He explodes out of his stance and mirrors edge rushers with ease. Both plays above highlight this trait, William’s is very athletic and has the footwork to keep up with the athletic edge rushers in the NFL. On the first play he is in perfect positioning from start to finish. He mirrors the rusher and even stays with him when he tries to cutback on the rush. William’s keeps his hands in great position and maintains his pad level throughout the snap. On the second play, the defender starts off with a very wide split. Williams is still able to beat him to the corner and seal him from making a play on the quarterback. His footspeed is the main difference between him and Cornelius Lucas and could eventually be the reason he takes his job.
As solid as Michael Williams looked in the pass game, he was even more impressive as a run blocker. He is a mean run blocker and can pave huge holes in the run game. On the first play, he walks the defensive lineman to the sideline on a zone read run. This is a perfect lead block on a zone stretch run, he seals the edge and gives Theo a perfect lane to cut back through when he turns the defensive lineman towards the sideline. The second block is on a power run. Williams shows off his brute strength and physicality at the point of attack. He has great hand placement which allows him to turn the defender away from the intended hole. He is a brute at the line of scrimmage and is willing to do the dirty work in the run game.
Williams is making a very strong case for the starting job. He has been improving in practice and outplayed both Corey Robinson and Cornelius Lucas in the first preseason game. The fact he played exclusively at right tackle is another good sign, Lucas played mostly at left tackle which could mean he’s the first tackle on the bench. The team could be treating him similarly to rookie Laken Tomlinson by easing him into a starting role. The staff deserves a lot of credit for the progress that Michael Williams has made this year. He certainly doesn’t look like he’s only been playing offensive line for two years and could be another late round steal for the Lions.
Next: Zach Zenner