The New England Patriots, who will be off until the training camp begins later this month, presently have 89 players on their active roster. However, on August 31, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns and ultimately make the team. Over the summer, we’re going to look at the teams fighting for those places to find out who has the greatest opportunities to help the Patriots defend their Super Bowl title.
Review 2018: Joejuan Williams already played a starting position in Vanderbilt during his 2017 sophomore season and was able to construct on it in his junior year: appearing in all thirteen of the Commodores matches (with twelve beginning from his name), Williams delivered his NFL career’s best season as a physical cornerback and a reliable playmaker on the perimeter — all while playing at the toughest conference of college football, the SEC.
Overall, for 904 of Vanderbilt’s defensive snaps, the third-year man was on the field and targeted 75 of them in coverage. Of the passes thrown away by Williams, 36 were completed for a success rate of just 48.0%. And while he gave up 451 yards and 5 points, the bat — which was also used frequently in the game of kicking — also intercepted 4 pass attempts while breaking up 10 more.
Still active as a run defender, Williams finished his 2018 season with 60 solo tackles and 10 assists ; 22 of his tackles led in stops being classified as missed tackles with only 8 of his attempted take-downs. This consistency combined with his competitiveness in coverage earned Williams a spot on the All-SEC team — and landed him high on the draft boards of teams after he decided to forgo his senior season to enter the pros.
Although the scouting combine did not necessarily assist him to increase his inventory — he ranked fifth among cornerbacks with 17 bench-press reps, but also posted the third worst 40-yard-dash (4.63 seconds) Williams was still one of the most fascinating cornerbacks entering the college player selection session. After all, his distinctive construction and physicality made him a developmental player worth taking a closer look at.
2019 Preview: On the second day of the draft, in order to get Williams on board, the Patriots traded from 56th to 45th place — they also abandoned a third-round selection as part of the agreement. His draft status, of course, makes the 21-year-old a lock on New England’s roster this season ; therefore, the primary issue heading into 2019 will be how much play time he will see in a crowded defensive backfield during his rookie season.
It wouldn’t be surprising if, in fact, it was quite a lot. After all, Williams is a rather distinctive cornerback due to his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame in conjunction with his athletic skills and versatility, He has the size to suit larger wide receivers and tight ends, the physicality and experience of playing press-man coverage on the border, and the intelligence to line up in the slot as well. He’s, quite honestly, a jack of all trades.
As either, and given the composition of the cornerback group of the Patriots as a whole, regular playing time should be expected from Williams. When New England, for instance, performs the Kansas City Chiefs, It could be used to cover the narrow end of Travis Kelce — a job that fell mainly on the 6-foot-1 boxer J.C. During the playoffs, Jackson. Because of its size and moving abilities, Williams projects to play a main role against getting tight ends like Kelce.
While his use will depend on adversary and condition, in 2019 Williams will probably play an important but not a starting-caliber position as a rotational nickel and dime defender — and a player will also see frequent snaps in the kicking game.