Will Steve Williams' knack for making plays in the secondary translate to the NFL?
Fifth Round: 145th Pick
Steve Williams is coming off a junior season that saw him greatly boost his stock in the 2013 NFL draft. He recorded 80 tackles, 13 passes defended and three interceptions while earning honorable mention for the All-Conference team in the Pac-12.
Let's break down what makes Williams a potential steal in the later rounds of the upcoming draft.
What really makes Williams such an interesting prospect is his feet. He's got good quickness, agility and fluidity. This allows him to easily change directions in the open field and keep up with receivers.
Williams has a knack for making big plays, recording six interceptions and forcing three fumbles during his college career. He also recorded an impressive 25 career passes defended, which shows he can make plays on the ball.
He is a willing and fundamentally sound tackler in the open field and shows quality physicality for a shorter player. He's also one of the more athletically impressive defensive backs in this year's draft.
At only 5'9" and 181 pounds, Williams has some obvious size limitations. Even though he is extremely athletic, he will likely have trouble covering bigger, stronger receivers on the outside.
There are also times when Williams will lack effort when he needs to shed blockers to make a tackle. He'll be content with waiting for teammates instead of aggressively pursuing the ball-carrier.
His hands could use a little improvement if he wants to become an elite playmaker in the NFL.
Williams posted some of the most impressive numbers while at the NFL Scouting Combine. His 40.5 vertical jump was tied for the best vertical among cornerbacks. His 10'8" broad jump was also good enough to tie him for fourth-best at his position.
Overall, Williams has a great set of tools, including speed, athleticism and agility, that will help him succeed at the next level.
During his three years at the University of California, Williams started 28 games, including 25 consecutive games to end his career. He has no off-field issues and shouldn't be a player teams are worried about bringing into their locker room.
Williams played a lot of man coverage during his time at Cal. He was mostly used playing off the line of scrimmage, but was used some in press coverage.
He has very little experience playing in a zone defense.
Playing the Ball
Williams does a great job reading receivers and playing the ball. He's got solid hands and playmaking skills to be a constant threat to opposing quarterbacks.
He also has good instincts and the ability to turn his head when the ball is in the air.
Against the Run
Williams is extremely willing to take on ball-carriers in the open field. He has great technique when wrapping up opponents.
He needs to become a little more physical when he needs to shed blockers to make a play.
There are times when Williams will struggle to get a good jam on a receiver at the line of scrimmage. He's simply not physical enough to excel when consistently asked to play press coverage.
However, Williams can play off-man coverage and use his speed and agility to turn and run with receivers. He does a good job at planting his feet and driving on the ball.
Williams didn't play a lot of zone coverage while in college. He does, however, have the ability to read a quarterback's eyes and react quickly while the ball is in the air.
Williams is extremely willing to take on bigger opponents when asked to make a tackle. He consistently attempts to wrap up opponents, showing sound technique in the open field.
His effort does lack at times, but he's a player you can feel confident about when a big tackle is needed.
Overall, Williams is very fundamentally sound in his technique. He keeps his body low during his backpedal and does a good job maintaining his balance.
He also times his jumps well in 50-50 situations and is physical enough to be a threat in jump-ball situations.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Despite spending the majority of his time playing outside in man coverage, Williams projects best as a nickel cornerback in the NFL. At this position, his lack of size won't be a problem at all while his elite athleticism will allow him to matchup with even the fastest slot receivers.