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Garrett Williams, Syracuse CB | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Sometimes lost in the shuffle at CB, can Syracuse's Garrett Williams earn an early-round selection in the NFL Draft with his scouting report?

The 2022 NFL Draft‘s cornerback class is shaping up to be one of the strongest in recent memory, and still, players are overlooked. One such overlooked 2022 NFL Draft CB prospect is Syracuse’s Garrett Williams — a player with an underrated scouting report, despite his proven production throughout his collegiate career.

Update: Garrett Williams has announced his decision to return to school in 2022.

Garrett Williams NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Cornerback
  • School: Syracuse
  • Current Year: Redshirt Sophomore
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 190 pounds

Garrett Williams Scouting Report

As mentioned above, the 2022 NFL Draft’s cornerback class is stacked. You have talents at the top like Andrew Booth Jr., Derek Stingley Jr., Kaiir Elam, Trent McDuffie, Ahmad Gardner, and Derion Kendrick. There are arguably at least a dozen more who could earn starting roles at the next level even beyond that list.

This positional depth, however, has a negative side effect. At times, it can push players down the board when they, in fact, deserve to be mentioned closer to the top. Williams is one of those players. He may not have the hype of an early-round pick, but he has the traits to go in that range.

Williams’ athletic profile

Williams is listed at 6’0″, 190 pounds, but he may measure in a bit smaller. Either way, it’s not a pressing issue because Williams should test well athletically. He’s a great physical talent with exceptional explosiveness that underpins his game. Williams is explosive out of his breaks, and he brings searing closing speed. The Syracuse CB can hit a blistering second gear when closing on plays.

Going further, Williams has good closing burst in recovery, and he’s shown to close gaps and make plays in pursuit. His long speed isn’t elite, but it’s at least solid, and that shows when traversing the field.

Williams flies around in shorter areas. And when he’s not in pursuit, he’s a twitchy, energetic mover who can match receivers with his loose hips. His hips are fairly fluid as well, and he sinks his hips as he mirrors receivers’ movements.

Additionally, Williams’ athletic traits also show up at the catch point. The Syracuse CB has the smooth vertical athleticism to rise and contort to make plays on the ball. Even more impressive is his rare coordination and body control, which he consistently uses to generate momentum-changing coverage plays.

Execution beyond the physical traits

Williams isn’t the biggest cornerback, but he doesn’t let his size hinder his game. The Syracuse CB is more than willing to play physical and dish out hits coming downhill.

Particularly in run support, Williams is aggressive, rangy, and quick to react. He’s able to use his physicality to disengage blockers and attack ball carriers. Furthermore, he’s generally solid at squaring up ball carriers and obstructing their path forward. More often than not, Williams takes good angles to the ball in the open field, and he’s shown he can wrap up as a tackler.

Williams’ competitive style also shows up in other phases. The Syracuse CB doesn’t press on every down, but he’s proactive and calculated in using his arms to disrupt route stems when he does. He’s highly competitive at the catch point and plays the ball through the entire catch process. Until the receiver has completely secured the ball, it’s not safe from Williams. He plays every pass to the very end.

Williams has a competitive, energetic playing style, but he channels it well with his natural talent and IQ. The Syracuse CB has smooth footwork and opens his hips proficiently when he needs to. He has superb play recognition when responding to screens and route breaks, and he generally positions himself well in zone with his spatial awareness. Most notably, Williams tracks the football exceptionally well in the air and proactively uses his hands to disrupt.

Areas for improvement

There aren’t many glaring flaws in Williams’ game. There are areas where he can find greater consistency, but there aren’t any red flags to suggest he can’t find a role in the NFL. Most notably, Williams may not be elite from an athletic standpoint. He’s still great in that regard, but his long speed and hip fluidity at times both fall short of the elite mark.

Expanding on Williams’ areas for improvement, the Syracuse CB can be inconsistent in maintaining his balance when stacking movements. He sometimes gets caught flat-footed on breaks, delaying his transition. He generally plays well against double-moves, but twitchier speed receivers can get a step on him. There’s still room for Williams to refine his efficiency of motion. With smoother weight transfers, he’ll do better in this regard.

Related | 2022 NFL Draft Prospects: Updated big board, player rankings, and more

Going further, Williams can do a better job wrapping up as a tackler. His frame, while not small, is relatively light. This can hinder his ability to finish tackles on occasion. Bigger wide receivers can use their physicality to sabotage Williams’ leverage. Williams is competitive no matter who he lines up across, but physical WRs can force extra space.

Among other things, Williams can be indecisive when route concepts force him into two-on-one situations. He also occasionally overcommits to premature angles. Overall, Williams can still strive for a better balance of patience and decisiveness, although he is solid there. Lastly, Williams does at times try to anticipate routes, giving up space for receivers.

Williams’ 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview

It bears reinforcing that there aren’t many true weaknesses on Williams’ NFL Draft scouting report. He’s not the biggest CB, but he’s not small, either. For his frame, Williams seems to have solid proportional length. He’s not an elite athlete, but Williams does have exceptional explosiveness, and he passes the necessary threshold in other areas like speed and agility.

When you filter out Williams’ areas of imperfection, you’re left with an energetic, twitchy, and uber-competitive cornerback who brings playmaking potential in both run and pass defense. His most inspiring trait is his playmaking ability at the catch point, which is near the top of his class. But with his twitch, urgency, and quick reaction ability, he’s a force with his feet on the ground as well.

Overall, Williams is a well-equipped CB with natural playmaking instincts. He has ample explosiveness, perhaps the most important athletic trait for defenders. Mentally, he’s refined beyond his years. Williams looks like a solid Day 2 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft with starting upside, and he could go on to exceed that draft billing.

Garrett Williams’ Player Profile

It didn’t take long for Williams’ playmaking gene to show up. From an early age, the Syracuse CB clearly had a knack for making plays that other corners didn’t have.

At Hickory Ridge High School in North Carolina, Williams played two years on varsity. He started at QB, but was needed at CB one day and dominated. He stuck at CB after that. Over his HS career, he amassed 4 interceptions and 26 pass deflections while tacking on 99 tackles and 8 tackles for loss.

The production helped Williams gain some notoriety on the recruiting trail, and a 33.6-inch vertical jump earned in testing only helped his case. Although Williams was only a three-star recruit, he fielded offers from programs like West Virginia, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State, and Maryland.

Ultimately, however, Williams decided to head to New York for his football future. He signed with the Syracuse Orange, entrusting them with his ongoing development.

Williams’ career at Syracuse

Williams redshirted his first season with the Orange. It was a time reminiscent of the calm before the storm — because in 2020, the storm came for opposing offenses.

Williams joined a talented secondary in 2020 that included 2021 NFL Draft picks Ifeatu Melifonwu and Andre Cisco, as well as UDFA Trill Williams. In that secondary, Garrett Williams was the most productive member.

In 11 games, the Syracuse CB amassed 64 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, a sack, 2 interceptions, and 9 pass deflections. Williams was given honorable mention All-ACC honors and quickly inserted himself on the list of budding 2022 NFL Draft prospects.

In 2022, it was business as usual for Williams. Despite movement around him, Williams himself remained a steady and constant playmaker. Through ten games, he logged 52 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 9 deflections. His 18 deflections over the past two seasons remains one of the highest figures among active ACC defenders.

Williams’ NFL Draft ascension

If Williams had chosen to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft, he would’ve been one of the top redshirt sophomores on the draft board — perhaps the top one behind Mississippi State tackle Charles Cross. Instead, Williams will return to school, and take one of the top early spots in the 2023 CB class.

Although he doesn’t turn 21 years old until next June, Williams has already distinguished himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the nation. And in the process of producing, he’s also shown off plenty of next-level traits.

Williams clearly has high-end explosiveness on tape with good long speed and fluidity. He also appears to have fairly solid proportional length. Even if that figure isn’t elite, he uses his available length well in coverage. If he can add a bit more weight to his frame and keep refining his footwork, he can take the next step in 2022.

By combining his solid physical foundation with strong instincts and natural playmaking ability, Williams has quickly distinguished himself as an early 2023 prospect to watch.

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and his voice and face on Pro Football Network Daily. Follow him on Twitter @ian_cummings_9.

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