The New York Jets got a big building block for their new-look defense with their first pick in the NFL draft.
Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams was selected No. 3 overall Thursday night, giving coach Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams a playmaking pass rusher and run stopper who’ll be counted on to beef up New York’s defensive line.
The Jets fielded trade offers from several teams leading up to their selection and general manager Mike Maccagnan made it clear he was open for business. But, New York instead chose to stay put and take a player many considered the best in the draft.
The 6-foot-6, 303-pound Williams was a disruptive force for the Crimson Tide last season as a nearly unblockable D-lineman who has an intriguing combination of quickness, power and strong hands.
This marks the third straight year the Jets have seen a highly touted player who many considered the best available “fall” to them. It happened last year when they took quarterback Sam Darnold at No. 3 overall and safety Jamal Adams at No. 6 in 2017.
Williams wasn’t a starter before last season, but went on to win the Outland Trophy as college football’s best interior lineman. He had eight sacks last season for Alabama, and 19 1/2 tackles for loss — causing many scouts to compare him to Los Angeles Rams All-Pro Aaron Donald.
He is Alabama’s highest drafted defensive player since linebacker Cornelius Bennett went No. 2 overall in 1987.
The Jets’ biggest need entering the draft was an edge pass rusher, and while Williams doesn’t necessarily fit that mold, he should make New York’s line even more stout by joining Leonard Williams, Henry Anderson and Steve McLendon.
The Jets have selected third overall in the NFL draft just twice since the 1970 merger, including last year when they traded up to get Darnold.
The other time: 1981, when they took running back Freeman McNeil, the franchise’s second-leading rusher.