Just last week, new Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said he likes the idea of Carlton Davis and Vernon Hargreaves III serving as his two starting outside cornerbacks. He went on to say that the team would look for a nickel corner, rather than another outside guy. That would seem to rule out the selection of a corner in the first or second round of the draft, but we are in the middle of smokescreen season. Nothing that anyone says right now can be taken at face value, right?
With that said, we dive into one of the draft’s top corners as our 40 Prospects in 40 Days series continues: LSU’s Andraez “Greedy” Williams.
Greedy Williams’ Career
Rated a four-star recruit out of Calvary Baptist Academy by ESPN, Scout and 247Sports, Williams chose LSU over the likes of Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Nebraska. He redshirted as a freshman in 2016, but came on strong in 2017. He was one of the SEC’s top corners as a redshirt freshman, starting every game and finishing the year with 38 tackles, 17 passes defended and six interceptions. He was named by the media to the All-SEC First Team, while coaches selected him to the All-SEC Second Team. Additionally, he was a Third-Team AP All-American, which gave him plenty of buzz heading into his redshirt sophomore season in 2018.
As a sophomore, the Shreveport native started 12 games, racking up 33 tackles, 11 passes defended and two interceptions. He was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in addition to being selected as a First-Team All-American and an All-SEC First-Teamer.
By the end of the 2018 season, Williams was considered to be a potential top-five pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, though his stock has taken somewhat of a hit since then. Even still, Williams played well enough to continue the “DBU” legacy for the Tigers. Now, we’ll see if he lives up to the standards set by previous LSU defensive backs in the NFL.
In coverage, Williams is as good as they come. His length is part of the reason why, as he is listed at 6-foot-2 on his NFL.com draft profile. That size helps with his stride, and his ability to use his hands helps him extensively in man coverage. As evidenced by his 28 passes defended and eight interceptions in two years, Williams doesn’t lack ball skills. His zone coverage isn’t as coveted as his man-to-man skills, but he is still plenty solid off the ball. His length, athleticism and speed are all pluses as he gets ready to make the leap to the next level. He has legitimate potential to be a team’s top corner, especially in what has become a pass-happy league.
As previously mentioned, Williams was once talked about as a top-five pick. His stock has fallen as of late, though he is still in the early-to-mid first round range. Of course, there’s a reason for his declining stock. As analysts and presumably scouts have looked deeper at his film, poor tackling has stood out. In his profile of Williams for The Draft Network, Brad Kelly says the corner’s tackling and run support both leave a lot to be desired. For his tackling:
Fails to wrap up ball carriers multiple times on tape. Footwork in his tackling is a mess, as he doesn’t gather or buzz his feet. Occasionally will ankle-bite with decent explosiveness, tripping up the ball carrier.
For run support:
Generally uninterested, lacking physicality, aggressiveness and technique in his run fits. Too often fails to disengage from blocks. Will take risks with his run fits and give up the edge.
Both of those issues are pretty significant, which is why selecting him in the top five no longer seems viable for any team. On top of those issues, Williams likely needs to add some weight and strength to his frame. He weighs in at just 185 pounds right now, which might make him vulnerable to being pushed around by the NFL’s bigger receivers.
Why the Buccaneers Need Him
Despite shortcomings in tackling and run support, Lance Zierlein of NFL.com still tabs Williams as an “instant starter” and a potential “CB1.” Right now, the Bucs have Carlton Davis and Vernon Hargreaves III set as their two outside corners. That’s a fine duo to enter the season with, but there isn’t a lot of depth there. Plus, with no long-term commitment to Hargreaves as of now, maybe Tampa Bay could use a guy like Williams. An outside duo of Davis and Williams, with Hargreaves at nickel or potentially rotating in on the outside for the next few years, sounds pretty intriguing. Williams seems to fit the mold of what the Bucs want in a cornerback these days, especially since they seem to be getting away from the undersized style that had been persistent in the recent past.
Despite Williams’ size, athleticism and overall talent, the Bucs might not be all that eager to draft a cornerback early — especially if Williams is going in the top 10. With the need for more talent up front, corner might not be much of an option even if Tampa Bay trades down in the first round. Now, if Williams falls hard for some reason and is available in the 20s or later first round/early second, maybe the Bucs make a move to bring him on board.
Will It Happen?
It doesn’t seem likely. Not too long ago, Greedy Williams seemed like a major fit for the Bucs with the No. 5 pick in the draft. Things changed rather quickly. Williams is excellent in coverage, but his problems with tackling and run support might remind Tampa Bay too much of Brent Grimes. Those traits don’t make him all that appealing in the first half of the first round, even with his coverage ability. Williams will likely be a success somewhere in the NFL, but the fit doesn’t seem to exist like everyone previously thought it did.The new coaching staff seems to be legitimately content with Davis and Hargreaves on the outside. Plus, with needs elsewhere, Williams and his projected draft slot don’t really make for a good fit with the Bucs.