Possesses above-average instincts when asked to attack the run game and looks natural keeping himself clean from blockers and making his way toward the football. However, isn’t a real consistent wrap-up guy in any area of the game. Is more of a striker who looks content to simply launch himself into ball carriers as opposed to bringing his legs and wraping up on contact. Takes good angles in space when asked to break down, but will take himself out of plays at times when asked to make his way into the box. Looks much more effective working in pursuit and tracking ball carriers sideline-to-sideline than trying to key off blocks inside.
Impression: Possesses a gifted skill set, can flip his hips, drive on the football and be physical when he wants. However, lacks a great feel in zone at this point and needs to become a more sound wrap-up guy. Nevertheless, I still like him as a potential starter in the NFL."
Williams posted 59 tackles and a team-leading three interceptions in 2007. He was even better in 2008, registering 65 stops -- including 55 solo tackles -- and three interceptions.
Protected up front by a terrific front seven and on the edges with two legitimate NFL-caliber cornerbacks in Kendric Burney and Charles Brown, Williams exploded in 2009, earning first-team All-ACC honors as a junior with 47 tackles, six interceptions and eight passes broken up.
A cerebral player who understands what the offense is trying to do, Williams was allowed to be a ball hawk in 2009. With the Tar Heels losing their two best defensive linemen (Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin) to suspension in a widespread investigation that also resulted in a four-game suspension for Williams, his big-play production dipped (zero INTs in 2010) and he was forced to become more involved in run support, leading to 47 tackles in only eight games.
Williams' season ended with a broken lower left leg in the Music City Bowl on December 31, and his ability to prove his health by the end of April will be essential to his final evaluation. Williams' size and athleticism make him one of the more intriguing free safeties in the country. He isn't a prospect without holes in his game and might still be waiting to hear his name called late on the second or even third day of the draft.
Read & React: Good instincts for the free safety position but will bite on play-action fakes. Reads the eyes of the quarterback and gets a good breaks on the ball due to his route recognition. Has good lateral agility, though his overall fluidity and straight-line speed are good but not great. Doesn't have elite speed for the position and lacks true makeup speed. Generally takes reliable angles in pursuit, though he's willing to gamble, which put teammates in some tough situations in 2009.
Man Coverage: Doesn't appear to have the man-to-man skills to effectively drop down and cover the slot receiver. Loses a step in his transition despite loose hips. Normal acceleration, though he appears to have good speed overall for the position. Uses his hands to ride the receiver and prevent separation. Competitive defender who believes the ball is his. Has excellent ball skills.
Zone Coverage: Has typical footwork for the position, showing a high, choppy backpedal. Gains good depth on his initial drop, and breaks quickly downhill on underneath throws. Possesses enough flexibility in the hips to turn and run downfield, but must do a better job of maintaining cushion. Was protected, especially early in his career, by the pass rush and talented cornerback play.
Closing/Recovery: Good route recognition, as well as at least moderate agility and straight-line speed to close on the ball. Can get himself in trouble when he freelances, as doesn't possess a second gear to recover if beaten initially. Competes for the ball, showing good timing on his vertical leap to go along with good size and impressive ball skills.
Run Support: Good lateral agility to elude blocks. Fights through receiver blocks efficiently and isn't afraid to come up to the line of scrimmage and play with the big boys. Understands his role as the last line of defense and generally does a good job with his pursuit angles.
Tackling: Generally a reliable open-field tackler, though it's not always pretty. Consistently breaks down in space to make the secure stop. Wraps his arm around the ballcarrier to bring him to a complete stop, but doesn't provide much pop as a hitter and can be dragged by bigger ballcarriers. Flashes some explosiveness, but isn't the intimidating headhunter across the middle that his star status might imply.
Intangibles: Was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for his part in the UNC agent scandal and suffered a broken lower leg in his final career game. Originally signed with UNC as a wide receiver. Has started all 46 games he's played of his career.
Can Williams stay healthy at the next level?
The White Oak High School product was a four star recruit as a free safety and he came in as a freshman to make plays immediately. He is a four year starter who’s experience has only seemed to help him grow as a total package player.
Williams had an uncharacteristic senior season after starting off missing the first four games due to the Player/Agent scandal that we all have heard numerous reports about. But you can’t doubt his overall play making ability and athleticism.
Williams is an excellent ball hawking safety with fantastic instincts. He’s excellent in diagnosing and differentiating between the run and the pass, and he doesn’t get sucked in against the play action. He is exceptional in zone coverage, and has the speed and quickness to cover a half of the field, or even play centerfield. Williams does a nice job baiting quarterbacks into throwing into his zone and breaking on the football when it’s in the air. He has soft hands for making the catch, and does a nice job of breaking up passes in the air. He is a sideline to sideline player with a very solid blend of size and speed.
Williams needs to improve in man coverage. Some talks of him playing corner at the next level have begun, and it won’t happen until he gets more fluid when changing direction and getting a quicker and lower back pedal. While he’s not a liability in the run game, he’s not the greatest tackler, often taking bad angles, and struggling to get off of blocks when needed. He needs to improve on breaking down in the open field and wrapping up nice and low on the ball carrier. He broke his fibula down by his ankle in the North Carolina bowl game, which prevented him from playing in any all-star games, and seems to get banged up with nagging injuries.
Williams is a very close first round talent, but with his latest injury, he’ll likely fall to the middle of the second round, and early third at the very latest. His coverage and ball hawking ability is hard to pass up in the second, especially for a guy who was touted as highly as a Top 15 pick prior to the season. I think it will be hard for Dallas to pass him up with pick 40. Houston, Minnesota, San Francisco, Denver, and Jacksonville also will take a hard look at him, and he should be off the board by pick 49.
NFL Comparison: Antoine Bethea"
Negatives: Does not have great straight line speed... Could have trouble in deep coverage at the next level... Lacks the speed to cover fast receivers deep in man coverage... Tackle production has gone down in recent years, but having a great defense in front of him is a big factor in that... Off to slow start this season due to missed time... Suspended four games to start senior season due to NCAA violations, took part in party thrown by NFL agents"
Positive: Big safety who flashes the ability to make plays sideline to sideline. Effectively helps cornerbacks and displays both closing and recovery speed. Aggressive, lays his shoulders into ball carriers, and quick up the field defending the run. Strong wrap-up tackler who brings ball carriers down at the point of attack.
Negative: Does not consistently take proper angles to the action and over pursues plays. Marginal burst to the ball out of his plant.
Analysis: Williams was a solid prospect prior to his ankle injury. Unlikely to be 100% anytime soon, he'll be stashed on injured reserve then reevaluated in 2012."
Weaknesses: Not the most sure tackler around. Doesn't always take the best angles. Will gamble. Has lacked some consistency at times.
Projection: Solid 2nd rounder, until the leg injury. may drop as low as the 4th now. All this awaits a more full prognosis on his prospects for a full recovery."
The production did not stop during his 2009 campaign. While the tackle numbers were down a little (mostly due to a more talented defense around him), Williams still earned First-Team All-ACC honors and had six interceptions, increasing his career total to 12. On a team that is loaded on defense (four players made First Team All-ACC according to the coaches), Williams is the big play guy. Williams was suspended for four games to start his senior campaign and he has yet to get back into the swing of things, however he is pretty much a proven commodity at this point in his career.
Williams' three years of consistent production have proven to scouts that he is a safe pick and what makes him even more desirable are his instincts and eagerness to learn. Williams will study game tape more than most quarterbacks and that is the type of player every team wants."
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