The NFL is constantly on the lookout for big, long, athletic cornerbacks to compete with the ever-increasing number of big, long, athletic wide receivers being churned out by college programs.
But the problem with big, long corners is that they need truly rare athleticism and fluidity to overcome their height and keep up with receivers throughout their routes. This brings us to cornerback Trill Williams out of Syracuse. The NFL will certainly pay attention to a corner who looks every bit of the 6-foot-2, 198 pounds at which he is listed, but is Williams athletic enough to be a cover corner at the NFL level?
The good news here is that even if Williams can’t stay a pure cover corner in the NFL, he has the experience and versatility to play multiple roles in a secondary. That size and versatility could certainly appeal to Patrick Graham and the New York Giants as they continue to build their very versatile secondary.
Prospect: Trill Williams
Games Watched: vs. Pittsburgh (2019), vs. Clemson (2019), vs. Louisville (2019)
Games Played: 28
Tackles For a Loss: 3.5
Forced Fumbles: 3
Passes Defensed: 5
Games Played: 5
Tackles For a Loss: 1
Forced Fumbles: 0
Passes Defensed: 4
Best: Size, athleticism, versatility, competitive toughness
Worst: Hip fluidity
Projection: A nickel defender and primary depth piece.
(Note: Williams is CB number 6)
Syracuse cornerback Trill Williams has the size and versatility to play a variety of roles in a nickel defense at the NFL level.
Williams is big for a cornerback, listed at 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, and appears to match his listed size on the field. He primarily lined up at outside or slot corner in Syracuse’s defense, playing in press man, off man, and zone coverages. Williams was also aligned at, or rotated to, a safety alignment in certain situations and packages.
He has enough athleticism to be a coverage option against average receivers. Williams is able to use his size and length to be disruptive in man coverage, as well as having enough speed to stay with receivers down the field. Likewise, he shows solid discipline in zone coverage, with a quick trigger to close on plays underneath him in zone coverage. He has solid awareness when playing in space, keeping track of what is going on around him and avoiding schemed conflicts when possible.
Williams shows good communication in the pre-snap phase, helping to line up his teammates or making adjustments in the secondary. He also shows solid awareness during the play, reacting quickly to offensive misdirection or playfakes.
He is a reliable run defender around the line of scrimmage, unafraid of contact, able to set a firm edge, and is a reliable tackler. Williams does a good job of using his size to take on and shed blocks from receivers, and generally takes safe angles to the ball to limit yards after contact. He shows good tackling form for a defensive back, routinely wrapping up to bring ball carriers to the ground. He shows very good competitive toughness in pursuit, with a good closing burst when chasing the play down from another area of the field.
Williams’ biggest weakness as a pure cornerback is limited athleticism and fluidity. He shows some hip stiffness, which can keep him from carrying speed through his transitions. Likewise, his backpedal can be a bit high. While these might not be significant issues for a smaller corner, they are limiting when combined with his size. Williams flashes springy athleticism, but can struggle to stay with some receivers through their routes.
Overall Grade: 6.5 - This prospect has the traits and potential to be an important contributor in sub-packages, but might need to transition to a new position to maximize that potential.
Trill Williams is a versatile defender who projects best as a “nickel” defender at the NFL level.
Williams is a bit too stiff to be a starting corner at the NFL level, but he has enough coverage acumen to be capable when put in the right position. Likewise, he has enough size and physicality, as well as communication skills, to play a safety role.
His skillset would be maximized in the NFL by a defense which can put him in position to use his ability to cover at the line of scrimmage, to flow to the ball from a deeper coverage zone, to play the run, or to rush the passer as a blitzer
Williams’ skill set straddles the line between cornerback and safety, and while he might not fit cleanly in either classification. That said, his versatility should be valuable for a team that is willing to move him around the secondary. Williams could hold particular value for creative defensive coordinators as the league calls for more defenders who can play multiple roles base nickel defenses to adapt to modern offenses.