Pro Day Tour Prospect of Day: FSU’s Williams

We take a deep look at a potential first-round pick at a Packers position of need, Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams. "He’s one of the best in this draft in regards to his route recognition skills in man coverage," reads his official NFL scouting report. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY)

Based on where the Green Bay Packers deployed their scouts, we present our Prospect of the Day, featuring career notes and a large segment of his official NFL scouting report, courtesy of the NFL’s longtime head scout and frequent Packer Report contributor Dave-Te’ Thomas.

FSU CB P.J. Williams

CAREER NOTES

— Williams started 24-of-40 games at Florida State – 11 at weak-side and 13 at strong-side cornerback…Finished his career with 123 tackles (82 solos) that includes a 9-yard sack and nine stops for losses …Added two quarterback pressures and one fumble recovery…Deflected 18 passes and intercepted four others that included one touchdown.

— In 2014, Williams earned second-team All-American honors from The NFL Draft Report and USA Today, as Sports illustrated accorded him honorable mention…The all-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team choice was named a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award…In 13 starting assignments at the strong-side cornerback position, the junior recorded 74 tackles (52 solos), fifth-best on the team, despite playing early in the schedule with a nagging hamstring issue…Had a 9-yard sack, a QB pressure and 6.5 stops for losses of 16 yards…Deflected 10 passes and intercepted another while allowing only 11-of-78 passes targeted into his area to be completed.

— In 2013, College Football News added Williams to its Sophomore All-American team after he excelled as an 11-game starter at left cornerback…The BCS Championship Defensive MVP was named all-ACC honorable mention after he recorded 35 tackles (21 solos) with 1.5 stops for losses of 10 yards and one quarterback pressure…Deflected seven passes and intercepted three others, including one touchdown. Four of the seven pass breakups came on third down...In the national title game against Auburn, he had a half-tackle for loss and an interception on consecutive plays at the start of the fourth quarter when the Seminoles trailed 21-13. His pick provided a spark and led to an FSU touchdown.

INJURY REPORT

2014 Season: Sat out The Citadel game with a hamstring pull.

2013 Season: Missed the season opener vs. Pittsburgh with a thigh bruise.

AGILITY TESTS

4.57 in the 40-yard dash…1.55 10-yard dash…2.63 20-yard dash…4.28 20-yard shuttle…7.08 three-cone drill…40-inch vertical jump…11’-00” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 12 times…31-inch arm length…8 5/8-inch hands…76 1/8-inch wingspan.

SCOUTING ANALYSIS

Widely regarded as one of the top cover corners in the country, the semifinalist for the Thorpe Award and a first-team All-ACC selection posted 74 tackles (52 solos). His 6.5 tackles for losses are testament to his run support work. He ranked second on the team with 10 pass break-ups.

Rated the ninth-best safety in the country as a prepster, the Defensive MVP of the 2014 BCS National Championship Game has been the shutdown cornerback the Seminoles’ staff envision when they shifted him outside in 2013. Last season, opposing receivers managed to pull in just 14.1 percent of the passes targeted into Williams’ area (11-of-78), as he allowed just five first downs.

Originally recruited as a dual threat (also was a receiver), he has the long, lean and wiry build that has the room to add more bulk and strength to his frame. What he possesses is outstanding football awareness, which allows him to play in a variety of roles in the secondary. With his ball skills and leaping ability, some team might also consider him as a valid prospect to handle the high point safety position, especially since the talent level at that position in the 2015 draft class is sorely lacking.

Williams possesses the valid field awareness needed to play in a variety of roles as well as return kicks on special teams. He has long legs and is high cut, but still looks fluid in his pedal playing from centerfield. He is effective playing both off and close to the line of scrimmage and is solid at driving on the ball and closing the cushion on underneath routes. He also shows good zone techniques, along with the ability to bump and reroute receivers.

While some scouts feel that Williams could have benefitted with another season at FSU, he is known as a hard-working player who consistently gets praise from coaches and teammates for his work ethic and attitude. He’s the type that will put in time in the film room, as he wants to know his opponents and defensive scheme inside and out. While some teams are questioning his off-field antics, nobody is concerned about his on-field effort, as he always brings a tenacious attitude on every play.

Williams is an aggressive hitter in the secondary who plays without regard to his own safety. He’s most comfortable when coming downhill and cutting down ball carriers with a low shoulder. Even when having to face up to the bigger and stronger runners who lowers his pads or larger receivers with the length to stiff-arm him, the Seminole will not back down from the challenge.

Williams adds to his resume with his stellar play on coverage units. Last season, he was also utilized on edge blitzes regularly, as the FSU front four had some issues getting into the backfield. He used his quickness and big hits to create havoc, recording seven of his tackles for losses, all when attacking from the blind side.

Williams is a quiet sort, but can also be a vocal leader on the field. He has a clear understanding of the defensive scheme and appears to have that gift for correctly reading the quarterback’s eyes and consistently getting that early jump on throws when working in zone coverage. He’s one of the best in this draft in regards to his route recognition skills in man coverage (allowed just 11-of-78 pass completions in 2014).

Williams loves it when he’s allowed to play mostly in press-bail or off-coverage situations, as he flashes a tough, aggressive hand punch after the snap in attempts to reroute in press coverage situations and while he is not training room strong (just 12 reps at the 225-pound bench press test), he does have enough functional power to knock NFL-caliber receivers off their routes.

Williams still needs refinement with his footwork when transitioning forward from his back-pedal, as he will take an extra step or loop a bit when closing on slants. He does display above average recovery and straight-line speed to stay with faster receivers down the field if beaten on a double move or losing a step off the line.

Williams plays well using a shuffle technique rather than the traditional pedal and appears to be at his best when the action is in front of him. He’s quick to recognize the switch-off in zone coverage and off-man coverage and displays quick feet and closing burst when coming forward. He also shows toughness to hold up his opponent in press technique.

Williams also appears very fluid opening his hips when attempting to turn and run, as it is rare to see him get too high in his pedal or get his feet crossed. He is a patient sort, very calculating and will not open too early or leave him vulnerable vs. double moves.

With 22 passes defended during 24 starting assignments, Williams is the type that will make quarterbacks pay for poor throws. One reason I have him still listed as a safety option is his centerfielder-like instincts and hands, as he utilizes his athleticism to full advantage when battling on jump balls. He also knows how to contort his body to make difficult catches with his hands extended away from his frame.

While Williams might not be elusive after the making the interception, he has solid hands and typically makes the right decision to get under the thrown ball. He also seems very comfortable tracking the ball over his shoulder, along with taking good angles to the thrown pass to time his jumps well. It is very rare to see him let the pigskin into his pads.

In conclusion, Williams shows overall playmaking ability in pass coverage. He has solid range while the ball is in the air and certainly has the change-of-direction skills to handle tight ends and some backs in coverage, if moved to safety at the next level. He has good feet and very good straight-line speed, but while he may not be a burner, he has the ability to accelerate and chase down plays.


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