A lesser-known Chiefs rookie has been making a name for himself early in training camp so far. Will he turn his chance into a starting role?
The news from Training Camp has been mostly positive for the Chiefs to this point. We’ve seen some flashes from veteran additions like Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. We’ve seen Frank Clark working with the younger pass rushers after practice to help them with their technique. And, as expected, we’ve seen the rookies from the team’s 2022 draft class start to shine and make their mark.
As the season draws closer, the mark those rookies make now could be the difference between a strong rookie season and one to forget. We’ve already seen a number of rookies start to make headlines in camp. So far, we’ve witnessed Skyy Moore gain headlines and make plays as well:
George Karlaftis has made some headlines as well, as has Trent McDuffie. It’s mostly to be expected that the high-profile rookies from the first two or three rounds have made noise. However, another rookie with an unexpected open door to snaps in the preseason has opened some eyes and stands to make an impact as camp goes on.
Chiefs’ Fourth-Round Cornerback Is Standing Out In Camp So Far
Joshua Williams was selected with the 30th pick in the fourth round by the Chiefs in this year’s NFL Draft. He attended Fayetteville State University. The Chiefs certainly didn’t draft Williams for his college accolades, but instead for his outstanding physical traits and “big school traits,” as Lance Zierlein of NFL Network called them in his Draft Profile.
Zierlein compared Williams to Greedy Williams in his profile. That Williams was drafted much higher, at 46 overall, by the Browns in the 2020 draft. Zierlein goes on and discusses the upside of Kansas City’s pick in the draft profile:
“Small-school cornerback with big-school traits and talent. Williams is long-limbed with the versatility and talent to play in any coverage. The footwork in press needs to be cleaned up and he allows some separation at the break-point against quicker targets, but his above-average foot agility and speed are the key to his ability to recover and recalibrate positioning. On the flip side, his size, length and ball skills stand out on tape and make it easier to project success as a competitive, downfield cover man in time. Traits-based cornerbacks from smaller schools can be very hit or miss, but Williams’ instincts and body control shine a more favorable light on his potential to become a future CB2/3.”Lance Zierlein, NFL Network
It seems the Chiefs found a mid-round gem in Williams. He stands 6′ 3″ and runs a 4.53 40-yard dash. That speed and size combo should allow him to match up well with NFL wideouts. On top of the size and speed, he has outstanding length for the cornerback position that should make him effective at the next level. We’ve already seen some of those skills flash in camp this week.
Above is a play from Thursday that saw Williams match up with Travis Kelce. He reacts quickly off the line after Kelce gets around him with a solid release. His speed allows him to recover after being beat and his length allows him to reach for the pass breakup once the ball is near Kelce’s hands. This is a perfect example of how Williams’ tools can play against NFL wideouts.
The camp hype doesn’t stop there for the rookie cornerback. In talking with the press, Chiefs’ defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo had good things to say about his rookie corner as well. “The one thing that Joshua does is that when we ask him to do something a certain way technique-wise, he goes right out there and tries to do that…all the way through,” Spags said.
We’ve already seen Williams rotating in with the first team in training camp so far. This could be a sign of big things to come for him. Although the lack of Rashad Fenton plays a part — he was placed on the PUP at the onset of camp — it’s still very telling that the rookie is rotating with the first team over other options such as Deandre Baker or Lonnie Johnson Jr.
If things continue as they have thus far for Williams, it’s entirely possible that we see the Chiefs utilize him in their regular cornerback rotation this preseason and into the regular season. As it stands now, L’Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie seem like locks for those top two cornerback spots. Is it possible Williams is currently surpassing Fenton and Baker for the third cornerback spot?
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