Leonard Williams has yet to live up to being a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but the New York Giants believe he can reach his ceiling next season. Joe Judge, the Giants’ new head coach, is optimistic about Williams’ abilities in 2020.
“I’m very excited about working with Leonard,” Judge said, via ProFootballTalk. “He has a tremendous skill set. We have to do a good job of putting him in a position to be successful, we’ve got to push these guys outside their comfort zone. He has the ability. So, we’re going to make sure we push him as hard as we can.”
Ahead of the trade deadline last season, the Giants coughed up a third- and fifth-round pick to acquire Williams from the New York Jets. In his first four seasons with the Jets, Williams was wildly inconsistent, tallying a total of 17 sacks and 32 tackles for losses.
Then, in his eight games with the Giants in 2019, Williams notched just half a sack and 11 quarterback hits. Nonetheless, the Giants felt comfortable enough to place their franchise tag on Williams. The USC product is slated to make $16.1 million in 2020, which is tied for the fourth-highest salary among defensive linemen.
Before joining the Giants, Judge spent the past eight seasons with the New England Patriots. There, he got a chance to watch Williams twice a year when the Patriots would face AFC East divisional foe Jets.
While the Giants believe they made the right choice in retaining Williams, some have questioned the move. Entering his inaugural season as head coach, Judge believes the Giants just need to put Williams in the best position to succeed.