Jets DE Leo Williams most impressive player in camp, ready to dominate

"Man, he's going to be special," teammate Jarvis Jenkins said of Leonard Williams. Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Buster Skrine was watching practice tape on Saturday morning with the rest of his defensive teammates when he noticed the big dude in the middle of the defensive line, tossing bodies around.

"Leo was manhandling people up front the whole practice," said Skrine, who wasn't the only person in the meeting room who noticed.

Leo is Leonard Williams, who might be the most impressive player so far in the New York Jets' training camp. After a solid rookie season, he's ready to graduate to a new level. In the preseason opener, he wrecked a potential touchdown drive with a third-down sack deep in Jets territory, welcoming Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles to New Jersey.

"Second year in the defense, second year in the conference, I think he's going to dominate this year," Skrine said. "I think he can be a Pro Bowl guy. People know about him now, but with the weapons we've got on the D-line, if you're going to block him as a single ... "

Skrine shook his head.

"I don't see it," he said, finishing the thought.

The Jets should have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. It might take some time, with Muhammad Wilkerson coming off a broken leg and Sheldon Richardson bracing for a one-game suspension to start the season, but this line will be scary good.

The 6-foot-5, 302-pound Williams is growing up before their eyes, becoming more assertive and showing more vocal leadership on the field than his rookie year. He's still learning how to read blocking schemes and use his hands to defeat blockers, but he has improved in those areas.

The talent is there. General manager Mike Maccagnan and his scouts almost broke out the hats and noisemakers when Williams fell to them with the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft.

"When you have a guy that big and that fast and that flexible, you see the raw talent," said veteran Jarvis Jenkins, who joined the defensive-line fraternity as a free agent. "To see him match the intensity of Mo and Sheldon ... man, he's going to be special."

As a rookie, Williams was "pretty steady," defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said. "Now we kind of need him to make big plays."

Williams acknowledged he "didn't have huge numbers that pop out on the stat sheet" -- three sacks, no forced fumbles during his rookie season -- but he was happy with the way he defended the run and took on blockers to help free up teammates. In other words, he did the blue-collar work, knowing that true football insiders appreciated it.

In the offseason, he trained with his former line coach at USC, hoping to improve his explosiveness. Does he have the ability to improve on three sacks? Let's put it this way: Does Michael Phelps know how to swim?

"When I was in college and high school, I always got lot of sacks," said Williams, who made 21 sacks in three years at USC. "I'm not comparing that to the NFL, but I have high expectations every year and I'm looking forward to improving those numbers."