The 2011 NFL Draft is rich with cornerback talent. In this draft, you can find a quality cornerback even late into the third round. Of course, there is Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara at the top, but this is a deep draft class for cornerbacks. After doing a bunch of mocks where I mock a corner to us from the 1st round to the 3rd round, I believe I have come across my final selection for us at the cornerback position.
Round Rock, Texas
Aaron Williams from the University of Texas maybe the least talked about cornerback towards the top of the cornerback rankings. For years I have wanted a Texas player, but we have never seemed to end up drafting one. I remember last year watching Aaron Williams and thinking this could be a serious option for us when the 2011 NFL Draft comes around. His junior season was a type of a down year, but I believe that's because teams decided to target him less because they knew Williams would make a play on the ball.
Texas has been pumping out cornerbacks to the NFL for a good amount of time now. Cedric Griffin of the Vikings, Michael Griffin of the Titans, Michael Huff of the Raiders, Quentin Jammer of the Chargers, Aaron Ross of the Giants, Earl Thomas of the Seahawks and Nathan Vasher of the Lions. If you take a closer look at that list, some of those guys now play safety in the NFL and a lot of them began their career at cornerback and made the position change in the NFL with success.
Out of that list, I would say Aaron Ross is the only true bust of the group. Texas puts out quality players from their secondary every year and Aaron Williams will be the next one to make the jump the NFL. What I also like about Williams, is we could transition him to safety if we wanted to. He has the size and physical tools to succeed at either position. Versatility is something the Cowboys scouts have been looking at in recent players and Williams is versatile.
When I watched him play I loved the fact the he was so aggressive. Besides being a ball hawk, he is a willing and physical tackler. At 6-1 195, he has the size to be physical. He could add a few more pounds to his frame, and he can do that because he is still young man. He could end up adding ten more pounds of solid muscle to his frame. Now some of the scouting reports I read mentioned that he was a bad tackler, and I couldn't disagree more. Whenever I put game tape on or when I watched him play, he was a willing and physical tackler. I don't know what the draft gurus saw, but I see a cornerback who is willing to be physical and rush in for the tackle. He has great technique and keeps his head up when making tackles.
Right now, I would say that's a major aspect of football our starting corners are pretty bad at. Terence Newman tries to tackle at least, and he does clip some guys by their legs and makes the play. Mike Jenkins, used to be a physical tackler but appeared to quit last season. Orlando Scandrick is a physical tackler, maybe our best in the secondary. So when I sit down and take a closer look at the cornerback prospects, I want to see willing and physical tacklers.
Where Aaron Williams makes the most impact at is man to man press coverage. He has a smooth backpedal and doesn't get too high into his backpedal even though he is a taller cornerback. He possesses the fluid hips that great cornerbacks have and stays step for step with a wide receiver during the route. He has quick feet and can make a stop right away, plant his foot and make the cut. He has great speed and even though it isn't elite speed, he has the top end speed to catch up to wide receivers and close in on the ball. One thing I noticed about him from the tape I watched was that he is quick to turn back and close in on a wide receiver. What I mean is, if a wide receiver stops and comes back to the ball after running a comeback route, Williams stops and plants his foot, then makes the cut and pounces back to make the tackle or interception.
Aaron Williams will make a living in man to man coverage, because he is so good at it. He has the size and is physical enough to succeed playing man to man. With Rob Ryan installing a more aggressive and physical defensive system, Williams would be the perfect fit for the scheme.
Williams played a lot of man to man, but when he was asked to play zone coverage he was very adequate in doing so. Because of his speed, he can read and react on the play quickly. He is aware of what is going on and will get his hands up to bat the ball down. Now not all of his zone coverage scouting report is gravy, he needs to be coached at the NFL level to properly grasp the zone coverage schemes ran in the NFL.
I have no reason to believe he will not succeed and be a good zone corner because simply he is too athletic and has the physical skills to succeed. Zone coverage is more about instinct and reacting to the play in front of you. Texas players are smart football players, they don't lack football intelligence like a lot of other schools do. This is the one area of his game Williams will have to work at, but in time he will learn how to react in zone coverage at a high level.
One aspect of his game that is also very impressive is going up for the football. He has the size to fight with the bigger wide receivers in the NFL and uses his size to make a play on a jump ball. He will use his length to out jump the wide receiver and has the hands to come down with the ball. A lot of times when your looking over a cornerback prospect, they seem to misjudge when to jump up for the football. Aaron Williams doesn't have that problem and if you take a look at some of his game footage, especially the Nebraska game, he times it perfectly.
He is explosive when jumping up and boxes out wide receivers similar to the way a power forward would in basketball. I want my cornerbacks making plays on the football, and at least Williams is aggressive enough to take those chances. At the same time I wouldn't say he is over aggressive, I would say he just makes good football decisions and takes the right opportunities to make a play on the football.
He also has pretty decent hands and if he gets his hands on the ball he usually comes away with the pick. Sometimes you see cornerbacks who have bad hands, and that's the reason they are playing cornerback instead of wide receiver. He was a defensive back, wide receiver and played some quarterback in high school. Cornerback was what he was best at and was ranked the nations top cornerback prospect by Rivals, a scouting service for high school players entering college. Also I like this kid a lot because he is a Texas native from Round Rock, Texas. I am from New York, but I understand the significance of playing for the Dallas Cowboys or Houston Texans if you are from the state of Texas. I would love to get this kid in the blue and silver and I am sure he would be thrilled to play for us just like Dez Bryant was.
Wes Bunting made a comment today on Rafs website Cowboys Nation that I really liked, he said Aaron Williams has similar athleticism to Patrick Peterson. He said that Williams is not too far off from Peterson athletically. That's great news if you ask me, because to compare Williams to the caliber of athlete Peterson is, is a big time comparison. When you take a look at Aaron Williams, he definitely looks the part. He is well built and has a muscular build to him. A lot of cornerbacks have that frail, I need to eat a cheeseburger type look to them and Williams is not one of those cats. Williams is a pet cat, and he should be on all of your pet cat lists starting immediately.
Chia's NFL Comparison: Antonio Cromartie
I have heard comparisons from Charles Woodson, Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie when it comes to Aaron Williams. I do see the Charles Woodson similarities, but I cannot compare anyone to Charles Woodson because he is one of the best cornerbacks of all time. Now I will say I do see the Cromartie similarities, both are taller and physical corners that thrive in man to man press coverage. If I could land a Cromartie like cornerback 40th overall, then I would pounce on that. Cornerbacks can learn the zone schemes in the NFL, that's something a coach can teach a cornerback. But man coverage is something I think you just have to be good at naturally, especially in press coverage.
In the late first round to the second round there will be a lot of high quality prospects. That's why I believe we can land Aaron Williams in the second round, unless he shoots up teams draft boards from here to April. As of right now, a lot of draft services have Prince Amukamara, Brandon Harris, and Jimmy Smith ranked above Aaron Williams. Wes Bunting has him rated as his sixth cornerback, after Patrick Peterson, those names and Curtis Marsh. CBS has him rated as their fifth best cornerback and have a first to second round grade on him. Scouts Inc has him at fifth overall as well and Mike Mayock has him rated as his third best cornerback.
I have seen mocks where Aaron Williams goes in the first round and I have seen a lot of mocks where he lands in the second round. I could see him being a first round pick, but I am going to believe he falls to us in the second round. I just have a feeling he will fall to the second round, call it a hunch I guess and most draft services will agree he will be a second round pick, so it isn't unrealistic to think we could get him with our 40th overall draft pick in the second round. This kid does have first round talent in my book, he is just a athletic physical specimen that has great coverage skills, especially man to man. Cornerbacks like him with the size and skills he possesses are coveted on draft day, I just hope he is a Dallas Cowboy come April.
Take a look over some of his game footage and discuss Aaron Williams with me in the comment section. Thanks for reading and I will start rolling out the draft profiles as April inches closer. By the way, who would you like me to profile next? Write some options down there and please stay realistic with the suggestions. Like profiling Cam Newton wouldn't make too much sense you feel me? Thank you and I am look forward into seeing you in the comment section.
Aaron Williams Interception (via mikepl92)
Aaron Williams vs. Nebraska ('09) (via AloAloysius)