Futures

Analyzing the tape of college football's best players... and the NFL's future stars.

Futures: Greedy Williams

by Derrik Klassen

LSU cornerbacks are littered all around the NFL these days. Patrick Peterson is the school's prized alumni, but other former first-round picks such as Morris Claiborne and Tre'Davious White, as well as Day 2 gems such as Donte Jackson, Jalen Mills, and the versatile Tyrann Mathieu, are or have been key contributors for years. The 2019 draft class presents a new addition to the pantheon of top-notch NFL cornerbacks to hail from LSU: Andraez "Greedy" Williams.

Greedy Williams was a two-year starter at LSU. He redshirted his first year on campus in 2016, but burst onto the scene in 2017 and dominated from the get-go. Williams thrives as a bump-and-run cornerback. Be it in deep-third zones or in man-to-man coverage, Williams can be left out on an island and completely wipe wide receivers from the game. Williams' combination of confidence, smooth hips and feet, and sneaky coverage flexibility make him a candidate to be the league's next shutdown cornerback.

Williams lives on the line of scrimmage. A majority of Williams' tape at LSU featured him jammed up on the line directly across from his opponent. Williams is a dog in press coverage and can bully wide receivers through their route stem, if not run them out of bounds entirely. For a slightly less aggressive approach, Williams can also play tight man coverage that does not necessarily require him to press at the snap, but allows him to get right into the wide receiver's hip and mirror him step for step. Let's start with the aggressive approach, though.

via Gfycat

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via Gfycat

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These two clips are from the same play, but the second clip is a close-up on Williams fighting the catch point. In the first clip, Williams is lined up in press coverage to the bottom of the screen. The wide receiver gets a clean first step, but Williams snaps to him right after and jams him through his vertical stem. Williams slows down the receiver enough to force a slow route break. When the receiver tries to break off inside, Williams can easily match the receiver's pace from behind and leap to disrupt the catch point. As the second clip shows, Williams reaches across the receiver and slaps his top arm down just as the ball is about to hit his hands. Textbook bump-and-run pass defense.

Now for a few reps versus one of this class' top wide receiver prospects, D.K. Metcalf. Metcalf is a tall, rocked-up X wide receiver who wins primarily on vertical routes. Despite Williams being at a weight disadvantage (weighing 183 pounds versus Metcalf's 237 pounds), Williams faced little issue in getting physical with Metcalf and putting the clamps on him.

via Gfycat

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Ole Miss is in third-and-10 on this play. To the bottom of the screen, Williams is lined up right across from Metcalf and ready to follow his every move. Metcalf gets off the snap by trying to show an inside stem, but Williams does not bite. Williams keeps his shoulders squared and waits for Metcalf to commit to a true stem. The moment Metcalf works back outside and trudges up the field, Williams attaches right to him and mirrors his steps. Metcalf hits the top of his route at about 10 yards and tries to shove off Williams while cutting back to turn to the quarterback. Williams does not give an inch on the push-off, and instead sinks his hips and quickly returns to dissuade a potential throw to Metcalf at the sticks. The Ole Miss quarterback is forced to look elsewhere and slide up into waiting LSU pass rushers.

On other reps versus Metcalf, Williams was able to win purely with footwork and short-area quickness. Williams has the rare body control to keep his feet under him at all times, while still possessing the explosion to jump right back into a wide receiver's hip pocket when they try to make a sudden move.

via Gfycat

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via Gfycat

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In both of these reps, Williams does very little to deter Metcalf by getting physical with him. Williams may extend his arm to Metcalf to maintain a contact point with him, but he is never really trying to bully Metcalf off the route. Instead, Williams plays on his toes to allow himself to quickly reset his feet and match Metcalf's route footwork. Williams never oversteps or commits too far early on in Metcalf's routes. Since Williams can easily take short, quick steps to mirror Metcalf, Williams is always in position to pounce when Metcalf tries to break off his route. The patience and suddenness Williams shows in tight coverage is an overwhelming combination for opposing receivers.

On top of his quick feet and explosive reactionary skills, Williams' hips are smooth as silk. Williams can sink his hips at the top of a route, redirect his momentum, and return to full speed in seamless transition.

via Gfycat

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This clip is nothing special considering the quarterback did not even glance Williams' way, but it does show off the cornerback's flexibility. Williams is matched up with a lone receiver to the bottom of the screen. Considering how deep LSU's free safety is playing, Williams is theoretically exposed over the middle of the field, which may lead a cornerback to overplay his coverage to that area. Williams is cooler than that, though. Williams allows the receiver to work freely through his vertical stem and shades his outside shoulder. As the wide receiver tries to snap the route outside and force Williams to flip around, Williams drops his hips and flips on a dime, putting him right back in position to disrupt any potential throw. Again, it is not a flashy play, but that level of flexibility and redirection is elite.

The worry for many with Williams is whether or not he can be scheme-versatile. It is clear Williams excels in tight man coverage, and surely whichever teams drafts him will feature him in that role anyway, but some have concerns about whether Williams can play off or in different zone schemes. Though he seldom had to at LSU, the answer is, "yes, he can."

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Another rep versus Metcalf -- lucky us. This time around, Williams is in off-coverage at the top of the screen as the outermost cornerback to the trips side. Williams is reading the quarterback's eyes the whole way. As Metcalf stutters his route at about 6 yards, Williams is in position to collapse, but realizes the quarterback is pump-faking and wants to throw to Metcalf over the top. Williams bails down the field and slowly drifts to the sideline to get into Metcalf's frame. Without ever truly looking for Metcalf, Williams has the "feel" to find the receiver right at the goal line. The sudden contact and closure of the passing window forces Metcalf to panic, leading him to shove Williams to the ground and drawing an offensive pass interference penalty.

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In this instance, Williams is in a two-deep zone look at the bottom of the screen. Notre Dame rolls to Williams' side for a smash concept, which features one wide receiver on a deep corner route and another on a quick underneath route to the flat. The idea is to draw Williams, the flat cornerback in this case, to one route or the other. However, Williams plays the divide perfectly, playing far down enough to limit yards after catch on the short route while playing deep enough to take away the corner route. Notre Dame's quarterback throws the corner route anyway and gifts Williams an interception.

Williams' only other primary concern comes outside of his coverage ability. Williams is a notoriously bad and unwilling tackler, especially in the run game. Williams is willing enough to tackle after he gives up a pass, which is not often, but watching him play the run is often painful. Williams either intentionally waits on plays to develop because he does not want to get dirty or puts forth less than ideal effort when a runner enters his vicinity. Of course, this is not a unique characteristic among elite cover corners, but it is something Williams' NFL coaches will want to drill out of him.

Tackling aside, Williams is an elite prospect. Williams has the right blend of athleticism, technical gift, and brash attitude to be a star cornerback at the next level. Unless he tanks the upcoming NFL Combine -- and there is no reason to believe he will -- Williams will surely be a top-10 pick.

Comments

2 comments, Last at 25 Feb 2019, 7:33am

1 Re: Futures: Greedy Williams

by Raiderjoe // Feb 20, 2019 - 4:22pm

will read this article later as am fan of cornerbacks in egenral. interesting psiotion. Inteersting for these reasons laid out by former Raiders cornerback Lionel Washington- "Cornerback is not a glamorous psiotion. it's a position where you're going to get beat, where you're going to be the goat of the defense, the goat of the game. I love man-for-man because it is a challenge, and I love chakllanges. But you've got to be a strong person, because you're out there by yourself a lot of the times. The way we play defense here with the Raiders, you're goign to get beat, and you need to be strong enough to come back and keep fighting."

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2 Re: Futures: Greedy Williams

by Willsy // Feb 25, 2019 - 7:33am

RJ,

No wonder you like CB’s. Those teams with Mike Haynes and Lester Hayes we’re simply phenomenal. Ken Stabler, who as you know was incredibly accurate, once said it was impossible to throw any of the Raiders receivers open against those two. Apparently at one scrimmage he called about a dozen run plays as he was tired of throwing incompletions.

Great memories.

Willsy

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