PROS: Long, athletic, muscular frame that has added over 60 pounds since his freshman season. Excellent power at the point of attack to anchor and set firm edges. Terrific ability to convert speed to power and challenge the width of the pocket. Does well to place and fit his hands so he can play with extensions. Effort is consistently outstanding and he makes full-speed mistakes. Generally plays with good leverage.
CONS: Play recognition skills and vision needs to improve. His eyes are everywhere and he takes himself out of position with poor discipline. Doesn’t have a great feel for deconstructing blocks with an understanding of where the ball is going. Needs to develop more hand combating skills so that he can more consistently disengage. Fails to get himself in half-man relationships and gets stuck body-to-body way too frequently. Pass rushing plans are rarely identifiable and often absent from counters. Hips are tight and he struggles to corner. Has three different season-ending injuries since 2015 and missed five games as a senior with a foot injury.
BEST TRAIT - Power
WORST TRAIT - Technique
RED FLAGS - Injuries
North Carolina State defensive end James Smith-Williams has developed his frame wonderfully since arriving in 2015 and the play strength he has created is notable. He profiles nicely as a 4-3 base end because of his power at the point of attack, ability to see the edge and squeeze gaps. With that said, his pass rushing skill set is completely underdeveloped and his linear athletic profile and tight hips are problematic when he has to turn corners. Smith-Williams never became a dynamic playmaker for the Wolfpack, but his traits are worth considering in a developmental role.