Why USC's Leonard Williams is top prospect in 2015 NFL Draft

Former USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams will perform in front of evaluators Wednesday during the Trojans' pro day, and I expect him to put on a very nice show.



The event will give Williams an opportunity to meet with teams and give them a better sense of who he is, but he doesn't need to prove anything more to me during his workout. I already believe he's the best prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft.

In fact, I've said before that I think he has Hall of Fame talent. I've been on the receiving end of some ridicule for making that statement, but I'm not backing off that belief one bit. We don't know if he'll get to Canton, but does he have the talent to become a perennial Pro Bowler and put himself in the conversation? Yes, he does.

I've called Williams' games for the past three years, so I've had a chance to watch him develop into the player he is today.

He has everything teams are looking for, with an outstanding combination of size, speed and power. He added to his game each year at USC. I really like that he plays -- and practices -- through injury, and he plays hard when he's on the field. He battled injuries in each of the past two seasons, but my sources at USC each said he practiced way more frequently than he sat out. Williams is scheme-versatile, too. He can play defensive end or defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense, and he can line up as a five-technique in a 3-4 defense. With his quickness, agility and hand usage, I think his best advantage is inside, but I've also seen him drop into coverage and make an interception.

I remember getting ready to call a Trojans game when Lane Kiffin was still the head coach. Kiffin told me -- and I know this will upset some college football fans -- that Williams was an "SEC defensive lineman." He meant that Williams is a high-cut, speedy guy who can get to the quarterback.

The bottom line -- Williams is a rare talent. Combine the talent with his work ethic and toughness, and you have a very special prospect on your hands.

Now, there are certainly others in the 2015 draft class that can make a case to be considered the top prospect available. The top two quarterbacks -- Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston -- and top two wide receivers -- Alabama's Amari Cooper and West Virginia's Kevin White -- serve as Williams' main competition to be listed first on draft boards.

Given his talent, scheme versatility, motor and ability to rise to the moment -- I've seen him make big plays in key games at critical moments -- I give Williams the edge over the competition to be considered the draft's No. 1 prospect.

Does that mean he'll go No. 1 overall in the draft? Well, that's a different story.

I'm sure of this -- guys like Williams are very hard to find, and I'll be surprised if he goes lower than third overall when the draft begins April 30.

Follow Charles Davis on Twitter *@CFD22.*

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