2008 NFL Draft Spotlight: Trae Williams

Scout.com NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber points out that South Florida boasts a pair of highly-talented cornerbacks who are drawing looks from NFL scouts, but that Trae Williams isn't yet getting the respect he deserves.

Eleven years ago when South Florida's football program was established, who would have thought they'd be mentioned with Ohio State, LSU, and USC as one of the top teams in land? A major reason for their success has been their recruiting and ability to construct a program that features top athletes on offense and defense. They have an outstanding defense that features quality play on all levels, especially in the secondary. South Florida has one of the best cornerbacks in the country in Mike Jenkins, but his counterpart Trae Williams deserves some respect as well.

The spotlight shines bright in the Bulls secondary, mainly on the play of Jenkins, but Williams has what it takes to be considered an elite defender.

"They're good; Trae and Mike are very good players," Bulls head coach Jim Leavitt said. "They are very focused. They are very talented players. They are talented because they understand that they have to work; they can't lay their helmet on the field and they need to get it done."

Due to the presence of Jenkins in the USF secondary, Williams, a senior, gets overlooked by many scouts and critics. Last season, Williams had a tremendous junior campaign recording 49 tackles and seven interceptions, and was named USF's Playmaker of the Year. So far this season, Williams hasn't had the same production he enjoyed last year, but he's been solid. He has 34 tackles and two interceptions through seven games.

Williams slaps a pass away from the receiver
AP Photo/Mike Carlson

At 5-foot-10, 193 pounds, Williams isn't as tall or highly touted as Jenkins, but he's a tremendous leader, savvy in coverage, and always seems to be in position to make a play. He's a major reason why South Florida is currently ranked tenth in the country.

Williams is an athletic cover corner who's quick and fluid in coverage and is strong when backpedaling off the line. He displays a good break on the ball and possesses good closing speed in coverage. He's extremely instinctive and has great awareness against defending the pass. He's a playmaker in the secondary who has good hands and cover skills. He's a physical corner who positions himself well and defends the run well.

As physical as Williams is, he struggles against tall, speedy receivers who can get a quick release off the line and break away with their vertical speed. He takes chances and occasionally gets caught out of position and allows a big play.

Overall, Williams is an outstanding, physical corner that will be a starting cornerback at the next level. It's unknown how high Williams will be selected in next April's draft because of the potential underclassmen that may declare. But wherever he ends up on day one or day two, a team will be getting a quality player with a great future.

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