Fourth Round, 105th Pick
Nevada's Duke Williams is a safety trying to break into the NFL through the draft this year. He's an excellent coverage safety with playmaking potential. His agility and quickness could end up having him selected higher than projected.
Let's explore what Williams can do for an NFL team:
+ Duke Williams is one of the better run defenders in the draft at safety.
+ He's a very solid tackler with good pop.
+ He can man up almost every player he goes against.
- Williams has multiple issues off the field that he will have to answer for.
- His ball skills are subpar despite good knock-away numbers.
- He needs to play more disciplined in zone coverage.
Williams is a tough one to project because he could go as high as the fourth or as low as the seventh round. It all just depends on the teams' individual boards. However, he will be worth more than wherever he is selected as he is a very talented safety prospect.
Williams has good strength and intelligence on the field. However, he doesn't show great hip fluidity when he is trying to cover in man. This looks to be more of a technique thing, and his raw speed is definitely there. He posted great numbers at the combine in both speed and agility drills.
Intangibles, Character and Injuries ( - )
He has always been one of the tougher players on the field with his hard-headed attitude. However, that also transferred off the field as he was suspended three times and arrested twice during his stint as a member of the Wolfpack.
Between incidents where he was either caught stealing, being in possession of alcohol as a minor or getting arrested for failing to take care of a driving suspension, Williams has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
While he was a bit of a problem child, he looks to have reformed himself into a leader both on and off the field (h/t Chris Murray of RGJ.com's Wolfpack Blog). Hopefully, he can continue that positive momentum. And as far as injuries are concerned, Williams never missed any time due to an injury.
He was used primarily as a strong safety in the defense. He rarely covered the deep half but did play center field every now and again. He also was used a ton in run support when the Wolfpack decided to stack the line in specific sets.
Playing the Ball ( - )
While Williams can get some knockaways and even the occasional interception, his ball skills come more from his ability to read what the receiver is doing than where the ball is actually going to be. He can separate receivers from the ball in coverage, and that helps him out a ton when he is trying to prevent catches.
Against the Run ( + )
Williams reads the runs well and doesn't tend to overpursue. He likes to get after the running back and can read the plays well from where he sets back deep. He attacks with efficient angles, and this is a true strength of his game as long as he doesn't try to dive into his tackles.
Man Coverage ( + and - )
While he shows great technique in press and off-man, he does have trouble with larger receivers in the press. His recovery speed is excellent, and he is able to use it to make sure that he doesn't get burned deep by receivers. However, as a safety, he will be in much more zone than man, so he won't be exposed as much.
Zone Coverage ( + and - )
Williams reads and reacts to plays well and attacks the zones. He's very instinctual and understands how to get proper depth. However, when he breaks toward the ball, he will overshoot from over aggressive plays. If he can play much more disciplined in the zone coverages, he will end up with a much better result.
He needs some coaching here.
Tackling ( + )
Williams is a wrap-up tackler who enjoys contact and tries to take guys bigger than himself down on the first shot. He's got great pop in his hits and has an enforcer-type mentality back in the secondary. He sometimes tries to cut guys low and misses wildly when he does, but overall, he's a very solid tackler.
Future Role and Scheme Versatility
In the NFL, he can play in any scheme man or zone. He would be ideal for a scheme that could take advantage of his athleticism and blitz him every now and again. Williams will end up being an impact safety if he can make sure to keep his nose clean.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.