In the sixth installment of my “Predicting the Bills’ breakout players of 2012″ series, I’ll take a look at cornerback Aaron Williams.
The Buffalo Bills selected Aaron Williams out of Texas with the No. 34 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, despite concerns regarding whether he was a better fit as a safety or at cornerback. Buddy Nix and company didn’t mind the nitpicking and jumped at the chance to select the Longhorn.
Williams appeared in nine games in his rookie year, starting six of them, despite playing with a nagging chest injury that plagued him most of the season. He recorded 32 tackles, an interception, forced a fumble and deflected five passes in that time. As we all know, Williams didn’t have an offseason to absorb the playbook and style of defense the Bills operate, so his solid play was a surprise to many fans.
Now, with an offseason to learn under the Bills’ secondary coach George Catavolos, Williams could make major strides. His rookie year is now in the rearview mirror, and he has a bright future ahead of him entering the 2012 season.
Considering that the incumbent starter, Terrence McGee, is still rehabbing from a torn patellar tendon in his knee, and is unsure whether he will be ready when training camp starts in June, Williams could be the front-runner for the starting role at the left cornerback position.
Even with McGee rehabbing, Williams still looks to him as a mentor, telling BuffaloBills.com:
“I’ve got a new role starting out there at corner so I’ve just got to keep working and keep doing what got me to this point while also listening to the vets,” said Williams. “George (Wilson) is very smart and mentally knows everything that’s going on and Terrence (McGee) is still helping me out a lot. Having a guy like that is going to help us young guys be successful.”
With the improved pass rush the Bills added this summer with Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, formerly of the Houston Texans and New England Patriots, respectively, the Buffalo cornerbacks will most likely have a simpler task at hand defending the wideouts they face this year due to the decreased time the quarterback should have in the pocket.
Williams made great strides in every game he played last season, and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to improve after a full offseason of training and learning the cornerback position.