Brian Williams Profile

While it isn't automatic that Brian Williams will be an NFL free safety, the needs of the Vikings would seem to indicate that is where he'll play.

It was little surprise to see the Vikings draft a defensive back in the fourth round. Mike Tice said as much after the first day of the draft. The question now is how pure of a free safety is the man they drafted, Brian Williams.

The two highly publicized draft experts, Mel Kiper of ESPN and Joel Buschbaum of Pro Football Weekly, seem to disagree. Buschbaum had Williams rated as the seventh-highest safety. Kiper had Williams rated as the eighth-highest cornerback. That may not be all bad, because his experience at cornerback will obviously help him in coverage, but his tackles as a college safety show he has a knack for being around the ball.

Williams, a 5-foot-11, 207-pound defensive back started with North Carolina State as a reserve free safety in 1998 and started at safety in 1999. He led the team in tackles in his sophomore season, making 131 tackles. He moved from safety to right cornerback in 2000, starting every game and registering 55 tackles. He had 63 tackles from cornerback in his senior season.

He said the Vikings will be playing him at free safety. However, defensive coordinator Willie Shaw said he will take a look at Williams as a cornerback in minicamp and then make a judgement after the developmental camps.

"The secondary is real young and they like my style of play," Williams said of his conversations with Vikings officials.

He may be asked to start in preseason at free safety, with Don Morgan as his only real competition so far. He is also a solid special teams player.

The book on Williams says he has a big upper body and is instinctive and quick to react. He is also solid at helping in run support. He runs a 4.57 in the 40-yard dash, had a 39-inch vertical jump and did 19 reps bench pressing 225 pounds.

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