Even in a lost season like the one the New York Giants are experiencing, there are always a handful of positive developments. This season, one of those has been the recent emergence of second-year cornerback Jarren Williams as a viable player in the secondary.
Williams, an undrafted free agent out of UAlbany, spent most of the past two seasons on the Giants’ practice squad. Injuries and COVID-19 absences have forced the 24-year-old into action the past four weeks. He has responded well enough that he is now part of the 53-msn roster, and perhaps part of the future in the Giants’ secondary.
In four games, he has played 71 snaps. Williams has compiled a solid 76.6 Pro Football Focus grade. He has given up just seven receptions in 13 targets and has a 90.5 passer rating against. He has been a solid tackler, as well, making 15 tackles and not missing any.
“You’ve just got to play it day by day. Things happens week to week with guys going down, so you’ve just got to stay ready,” Williams said. “When that opportunity came, I treated every week like I was going to play, so I was prepared myself for that moment.”
An injury to cornerback Adoree’ Jackson is one of the reasons Williams received an opportunity. After watching him play, Jackson called Williams a “baller.”
“It wasn’t like we were shocked and surprised. It was one of those things where he handled business and we knew that he would, so I’m excited for him,” Jackson said. “I told him yesterday or two days ago when I saw him, ‘I’m really proud of you. The way you handled yourself, composed, being hurt earlier in the year, coming back and sticking through it and grinding, it’s all paying off.’ So, I’m excited and proud of him.”
Head coach Joe Judge has said that the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Williams has the physicality to perhaps eventually be used at safety.
“I think he’s a guy that’s got a future that we can go ahead and keep on developing with, but I like the way Jarren works and I think there’s some upside with him as a player,” Judge said when the Giants added him to the 53-man roster.
Here is what defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said about Williams when I spoke with him a couple of weeks ago:
“The thing I liked about seeing him play is he’s really, really physical. Really tough. Made some plays as a tackler, as a run-support guy that really impressed me, did some good things in coverage.
“He had a few things he needs to clean up from that game, but the thing I like about him is his upside. He has the body that you can see him playing corner or he can play safety. He has the toughness. He has the toughness to play safety, he has the athleticism to play corner, versatile enough to go inside.”
Williams said playing with aggression was ingrained in him as a youngster.
“That’s kind of how I was taught to play the game. My dad taught me to play that way, always aggressive,” Williams said. “This is an opportunity for me, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, I just can’t let it slip away, so I’ve got to do everything I can to stay.”