NFL Draft Preview 2015: CB P.J. Williams
This is today’s edition of our new daily feature: a look at NFL prospects ahead of the 2015 Draft. Each week, we will analyze our top five prospects at each position, one per day. This second week, we will be looking at incoming cornerbacks. Today’s corner is P.J. Williams out of Florida State University.
P.J. Williams ventured to Tallahassee from Vanguard High School, as the ex-Seminole certainly made an impact in his three years in the ACC. After limited playing time his freshman season, Williams emerged as one of the more well-known defensive backs in the country as a sophomore. In 2013, Williams was named All-ACC Honorable Mention, as well as being awarded the BCS National Championship Defensive MVP in the Seminoles' 34-31 win over Auburn.
Williams continued to excel as a junior, as the 6'0, 200 lbs. cornerback was an All-ACC First Team selection and also received a spot in USA Today's Second Team All-American list. The Ocala native finished his collegiate career with 123 total tackles, 18 PBU's and four INT's, including one career interception return for a touchdown.
For starters, Williams has good size at 6'0 and is as experienced a corner as any in the draft (he played in 40 games over three years). In the tape that was studied, Williams was avoided by opposing quarterbacks at all costs, as his side of the field was rarely targeted. His lack of opportunity was probably due to his ability to be in the back pocket of his opposing receivers at nearly every turn. He does a nice job of boxing out receivers and squaring up towards the passer.
Against Louisville earlier this year, Williams really battled with soon-to-be first round pick WR DeVante Parker, which was nice to see.
Williams isn't the fastest corner there is, as his 4.57 40-time was a disappointment, and he wasn't as fluid in the Combine drills as many had expected. On tape, Williams isn't as physical at the line of scrimmage as necessary, sometimes whiffing on his jams or not clearly affecting opposing receivers. He is a good tackler, but he abandons his fundamentals at times. Williams occasionally goes high on ball carriers and needs to consistently use leverage.
Williams' experience is a big plus because he really understands the position, but a lack of overwhelming explosion will probably put him somewhere in the second round, with the latter end of the first round still a possibility.
Florida State thrust Williams into the spotlight early, and he handled it very well. His growth as a cornerback and as a leader were certainly demonstrated from year to year, which is why he'll be a contributor to any team the moment he steps onto the practice field. If the Steelers like him enough to take him 22nd overall, that definitely fits a need, but it's unclear how realistic that is at the moment.
Williams would be perfect to the Jets at 38th overall, given the franchise's need for a plug-in rookie corner, and even more so with new head coach Todd Bowles' savvy in the secondary. After taking Calvin Pryor in the first round a year ago, Williams would be another nice piece to add to what is a ferocious young defense. Williams also serves as more depth at the position in case Dee Milliner's quandary continues to be a problem.