Darious Williams was the 21st-ranked player on PFN’s Top 100 Free Agents list. After breaking out with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020, he followed it up with another strong season, becoming a Super Bowl champion along the way. Now, he’ll head down to the southeast to become a part of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville signed Shaq Griffin to a big deal in free agency a year ago and drafted Tyson Campbell. How does Williams fit into a crowded cornerback room?
How Darious Williams fits for the Jacksonville Jaguars
Williams has never played many of his snaps in the slot, but it’s the only spot that makes sense for the soon-to-be 29-year-old. Campbell isn’t built athletically for the slot. Griffin has been an outside cornerback for his entire NFL career. Can Williams slide into the slot and find success?
Actually, there shouldn’t be any issues for Williams on the inside, at least athletically. His frame has always been best-suited for a slot role, but his vertical explosiveness has allowed him to survive against bigger outside receivers. He also changes directions fluidly, which will help him on the inside, where receivers have more of the route tree available to them.
The biggest question will be his penchant for picking up the playbook on the inside. Playing in a slot role holds different responsibilities in zone coverages. However, one of the best traits Williams possesses is his route recognition. There’s a good chance he will get back to his 2020 form in ball production because he’ll be freed to play forward more aggressively.
Signing lets Jacksonville keep a blitz-heavy game plan
Josh Allen is an outstanding pass rusher, but Jacksonville lacks many other viable options there. Signing Williams with Campbell developing allows the Jaguars to remain a blitz-heavy defense.
Their 31.5% blitz rate was good for fifth in the NFL in 2021. Despite that, they were only 21st in sack rate defensively. They also had the second-worst dropback EPA (expected points added) per play in the NFL in 2021.
The Jaguars mixed up coverages in 2021, but their blitz-heavy scheme will leave the back end on their own individual islands like they’re in the Finger Lakes. Williams’ coverage ability should help the group pass-rushing effort to be more productive.