Shawn Williams to Bengals: How Does Safety Fit with Cincinnati?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals have surprised NFL fans everywhere to this point by grabbing a tight end in Tyler Eifert, finding a franchise back in Giovani Bernard and seriously upgrading the pass rush with Margus Hunt.
All that truly remained was finding a way to upgrade the safety position next to Reggie Nelson.
Check that off the list as well.
With the No. 84 overall pick, the Bengals selected Georgia safety Shawn Williams.
Head coach Marvin Lewis and Co. love their Georgia prospects, and Williams fits the mold. He entered the 2012 season as the top-rated safety by most, but proceeded to have a down year, resulting in his fall to the third round.
Let's take a moment to see how Williams fits with the Bengals.
Coming into the offseason it was clear the Bengals had a major need at the strong safety position, hence mocks everywhere had the Bengals taking one with one of its first three picks.
That didn't come to fruition, but Williams may be the player Lewis and Co. were eyeing the whole time.
Williams is a massive defensive back at 6'0" and 213 pounds. He won't shock you with his straight-line speed, but he does well enough in coverage when put back deep as a safety valve.
Where Williams makes his money is against the run, which is what you want from a strong safety. He's physical and has the ferocity to bring down most running backs. He quietly recorded 98 tackles last season, mostly in run support.
In Cincinnati, Williams is going to push for a starting gig right away. That't both a testament to how horrendous the position was last season and how solid a prospect Williams truly is.
Taylor Mays is currently penciled in as the starter opposite Nelson, with special teams ace Jeromy Miles being a close second. Last season, cornerback Nate Clements and veteran safety Chris Crocker acted as the strong safety at points and were not much better.
If Williams shines in training camp, which he has a good chance of doing, he could steal the starting job from day one.
At the very least, Williams will have a serious impact on special teams right away. He's always shined in that regard and even blocked a punt in his last collegiate game.
Williams also has great character, which was likely another major reason Lewis and Co. wanted him. Williams has been a team captain since 2011, and in that season he struggled through a position change to linebacker when his team was depleted with injuries.
There may have been higher-ranked safeties by some (such as CBS) available, but clearly Lewis got his man with Williams, and now the Bengals have a rookie who can come in and shore up a weakness.
Did the Bengals make the right move drafting Shawn Williams?
Expect Williams to push for the starting job. He is better in coverage than Taylor Mays (not really saying much, we suppose) and has a bigger, more physical presence against than Jeromy Miles.
Throughout his career at Georgia, Williams has proved to be a leader on and off the field. That is something that could make itself known as early as rookie minicamp and propel him to the starting role.
Besides, the rest of the defensive unit is strong enough to make up for one weak position while a rookie adapts. It did it last year with Mays taking out his own teammates and veterans struggling to defend the pass.
Stats Projection: 45 tackles, two interceptions.
All pertinent prospect info courtesy of CBS.
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