In order to bolster their already impressive secondary, the New England Patriots traded up to acquire the 45th overall pick from the Los Angeles Rams. That pick was used to acquire Vanderbilt cornerback, Joejuan Williams. A lean ball-hawk, Williams doesn’t satisfy an immediate need but offers support down the road for a talented but aging secondary. Any time Belichick decides to trade up for a player in the draft, it’s hard to not have high hopes for the athlete.
New England currently rosters Stephon Gilmore, one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and a more than capable number two in Jason McCourty, who re-signed with the Patriots this offseason. Slot man J.C. Jackson is entering his sophomore year with New England and seems poised for a starting position, especially if age catches up to McCourty. Duke Dawson, a second-round draft pick from the 2018 NFL Draft who spent his first year on Injured Reserve, could step into the slot role he was prepared to take last season. With an intelligent group to learn from, Williams should have no problem progressing as a professional.
One player that Williams shares an uncanny amount of traits with is former Patriot cornerback Brandon Browner. Both Williams and Browner are quite tall for cornerbacks (6-foot-4) and use their size to press receivers at the line of scrimmage. While they both have the size to match up with larger receivers, they both have the tendency to get burned by quicker receivers. The tell-tale sign of the two cornerbacks is the number of flags they’ve earned for their physical play and holding once they’ve been beaten.
Williams seems more than ready to bring his in-your-face, physical style of play to Foxboro. The defensive back should thrive in New England’s man-heavy defense scheme, and has been viewed by scouts as a “project player.” If there is any location that a player in William’s situation would like to end up, it’s New England – Belichick offers the best defensive assistance in the business, and loves nothing more than coaching up a lockdown cornerback. In a league that shifts more to the passing game every day, Williams could see significant time early into his career.
Given his size, Williams could be utilized as a situational player when it comes to certain threats- mainly tight ends or large receivers in the red zone. Just like defensive back Obi Melifonwu, Williams has the size, and also the speed, to keep up with route-runners with a bigger frame. Characterized by a high-motor work ethic, the rookie should be up for the challenge of neutralizing a team’s red-zone threat.
Stepping into a crowded position, Williams will need to make his name known early in practices if he wants to spend his game on the field and not the sideline. With the capital that Belichick used to invest in the Vanderbilt product, fans will have aspirations of him making an impact early on in his career. With Belichick’s sage wisdom, Williams could become a fan-favorite for the next decade.