Miami safety James Williams is one of the most perplexing prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft. Sometimes, scouting reports tend to overthink extremely unique prospects like Williams, but there just might be a role where Williams can succeed at the next level.
James Williams Draft Profile and Measurements
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 215 pounds
- Position: Safety
- School: Miami (FL)
- Current Year: Junior
Williams was dubbed a unicorn talent coming out of high school. He was a five-star recruit, a top-15 overall talent, and one of the best recruits in the entire state of Florida.
MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Big Board
Looking back, it’s no surprise that Williams’ career has taken the arc it has. He was a defensive contributor for the Hurricanes on Day 1, and over a three-year collegiate career, he amassed 162 tackles, two tackles for loss, four picks, 13 pass breakups, and three forced fumbles.
Now, as a true junior, Williams has officially declared for the 2024 NFL Draft. He’ll be just a 21-year-old rookie, and he’s set to tear up the NFL Scouting Combine with his tools. But as a football player, how exactly does Williams project?
James Williams Scouting Report
- Elite size outlier with a lean frame, impressive length, and high-end explosiveness.
- Flashes eye-popping corrective burst and range to seal off second-level running lanes.
- Shows off bristling closing burst into contact once he’s able to align his hips and attack.
- Long-strider mold allows him to cover large amounts of ground in open space.
- Has the necessary fluidity to swivel around at stems and track receivers up the field.
- Possesses enough lateral quickness to adapt and adjust gap alignments early in reps.
- Has quick response to stimulus as a processor and can follow the QB’s eyes in space.
- Flashes the ability to manage positioning in space and execute coverage rotations.
- Aggressive downhill attacker who can obliterate blocks with length and power.
- Makes a point to drive force at contact and levies jarring hits on opponents.
- With angle awareness, can use wide angles to seal cutback lanes then attack downhill.
- Patiently plays gaps, squares up, and slabs runners with exceptional tackling form.
- Has the versatility to enter the box as a weak-side linebacker and play in support.
- Has the size, speed, and physicality to contend with tight ends out of the slot.
- Flashes the ability to extend beyond his frame and deflect passes with his length.
- Naturally plays a bit tall and leggy in space and can experience hitches on transitions.
- Doesn’t have elite foot speed or sink, which impacts his malleability and recovery.
- Can be too staccato with his pedal and sometimes fails to maintain zone depth.
- Feet can be too idle in his stance leading up to stems, causing delays in reaction.
- Tall frame causes him to drift upright at stems in off-man at times, causing delays.
- Doesn’t see crossers fast enough to break on them from intermediate and deep zones.
- Height can make weight transfers and pad level on his backpedal inconsistent.
- Drifts a bit when adapting in zone coverage, giving up more space than preferred.
- Can be late to recognize deep WRs in two-high and doesn’t have elite recovery speed.
- Grabs opponents with length to compensate for sink and technique issues in off-man.
- Sometimes overshoots pursuit angles when tracking RAC receivers laterally.
- Initial pursuit angles coming downhill can be a bit too narrow at times.
- Sometimes merely lowers his shoulder into contact and doesn’t fully wrap up runners.
- Occasionally shies away from blockers in space and gives up leverage.
- Can be a bit reckless and undisciplined with physicality, levying hits as plays wrap up.
Current Draft Projection and Summary
Williams grades as a potential top-100 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft. Based on schematic preferences, he could go as early as Day 2, or he could also slip into the Day 3 range and be a priority Day 3 prospect.
Williams’ profile, as well as his projected role, is very unique and more confined than most prospects. At 6’5″, 215 pounds, Williams is undoubtedly a size outlier at the safety position, with the high-end explosiveness to channel immense amounts of force at contact.
As one might expect, Williams’ best plays come in run support when he’s able to unfurl his explosive athleticism and unleash his hard-hitting physicality at contact. Not only is he aggressive, physical, and rangy in the box, but he also has solid angle IQ, block deconstruction skills, and tackling form.
That said, Williams’ unique profile comes with drawbacks in coverage. While he has enough fluidity to undergo single vertical transitions at stems, he doesn’t have the malleability, foot speed, or agility to consistently maintain and recover leverage in man and off-man coverage.
To that end, there are also lapses in vision and reaction speed in zone coverage — particularly in the intermediate and deep thirds, where it already takes Williams a little extra time to redirect and transition.
There are some coverage roles that Williams can fulfill. He does have enough fluidity and spatial awareness to execute rotations from the box, and he could be a nice mismatch piece against tight ends. Looking at those qualifiers, Williams’ best role at the NFL level might be that of a hybrid LB/S with big-slot capabilities.
As a versatile, explosive downhill attacker, Williams can be an absolute sledgehammer for defenses, and there are indeed coverage tools to build off of. In a rover role similar to Cowboys’ Jayron Kearse, Williams could thrive and be a quality defensive weapon.
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