With the selection of Texas A&M cornerback Brandon Williams, the Arizona Cardinals got a player who was not widely known. We know he is 6-0 and 200 pounds (even though his Combine measurements were 5-11 3/8 and 197 pounds). We know he has top end speed, running a 4-37-second 40 at the Combine. We also know he is new to playing cornerback.
So what does he offer the Cardinals?
Athleticism and skill:
General manager Steve Keim called him "a guy who has loads of upside, long and athletic, 6-0, 200 pounds, ran 4.3, tremendous change of direction and movement skills."
Williams "fits our scheme perfectly," said Keim.
He is "a guy who can play press, trail and reroute people in man" and he is "a true guy with length and athleticism that can play outside and do all the things that we ask our corners to do in this defense."
Passion, leadership, love, competition:
Williams fits the mold of leaders in college. He was a team captain on defense, despite moving to the defensive side of the ball for the first time just months before his senior season at Texas A&M.
"The one thing that excited us, aside from his physical tools, was the passion and the love that he has for the game," said Keim. "We talked to (Texas A&M defensive coordinator) John Chavis, (head coach) Kevin Sumlin, all the people on the campus, and there was no question that he was the team leader, the guy who was the vocal catalyst for the Texas A&M team this year."
Chavis, whom Bruce Arians called "one of the best defensive coaches in football," apparently ranked Williams "with some of the best he has ever coached." Arians trusts that evaluation.
He moved from running back to cornerback last summer. Why? "The only words I really heard is 'compete' and 'start,'" Williams told reporters after he was drafted. "At running back, we were a running back by committee. So I wanted to start and really have an impact on the team, some way, some how, whether it was at running back, receiver, cornerback, wherever, it doesn't matter. I just wanted to have a true impact on the team and help us win."
He is raw, but has some good skills:
Williams himself graded his one year at corner a C+. "It was super hard, learning the technique (of playing corner)," he said. "It was really hard, basically just getting put in different positions, because I never back-pedaled in my life. I never had to run full speed with a guy and stop with a guy or anything like that."
Arians said there are two things they know he can do -- "he can cover kicks, and he can play press man-to-man."
He has more to learn. he needs to learn "to play off coverage and some of the technical things of reading routes." But there are some facets of the Cardinals defense that won't be too hard for him. "We play a lot of 'cat coverage,'" he explained. "You've got that cat (you have that guy, cover him), and he can do that right off the bat. There's not a whole lot of learning when it comes to that."