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NFL Draft Prospect Preview - James Williams

by J.T. Toth


Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.


At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.


Today’s Spotlight - Miami, Fla, Safety, James Williams


Name - James Williams

Pos - S

Team - Miami, Fla

HT/WT - 6’5” 224 lbs.

Born- 2/15/2003

Home – Plantation, FL


James Williams was ranked as a five-star prospect by 247Sports and Rivals while playing at American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida. He was invited to the 2020 Under Armour All-American Game and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. During just his junior season, Williams collected 62 tackles, 1 sack, 6 interceptions and 5 forced fumbles. He chose to play football at Miami University over several other schools offering Williams a scholarship. 


In an impressive first season, Williams saw action in 10 games and made 7 starts for the Hurricanes. He was a playmaker during his freshman season and ended up with 31 tackles and picked off 2 passes. His game did not go unnoticed and he earned All-ACC Honorable Mention. 


In 2022, he saw action in 11 games, starting 10 and serving as one of the defense’s top performers. He ranked second on the team with 58 tackles and also had 1 interception and 6 pass breakups. 


This past season, Williams started all 12 games for the Hurricanes and had a career high 73 tackles. He also had 1 interception to go along with 5 passes defended and 2 forced fumbles.


Williams is 6’5” and 224 lbs. and plays an aggressive downhill style that can be intimidating to receivers making catches over the middle. He has excellent body control for a man of his size and uses his length to disrupt throwing lanes. Williams does a good job of pressing down on slot receivers and is effective at tackling in the open field. His route recognition is superb and he has the instincts and body to reroute receivers coming across the middle. He can be used in pass rushing downs and does a proficient job of selling coverage and then blitzing through a gap. In coverage, he follows the quarterback's eyes well and uses the right angles to chase down the ball.


However, Williams has trouble with the faster, shiftier receivers and is a bit stiff in his drops. He is not fluid coming out of his backpedal nor in opening up and consequently can lose a step, especially against the more athletic tight ends. With his size and ability, he needs to do a better job of getting his head turned around and deflecting passes. He has a habit of just lowering his shoulder, looking for the knockout hit, instead of wrapping up the ball carrier and goes out of his way to make hits. This makes him prone to late hits and/or personal fouls with his aggressiveness. He could be a tweener with his height and weight and could be a future OLB.


At the safety position, it is hard to find a 6’5” safety playing today that you can compare to Williams. Draft Nation sees some Kyle Hamilton in the way Williams plays. Hamilton was a first round pick in 2022 out of Notre Dame and is known for being a hard hitter who uses his 6’4” body to intimidate slot receivers and running backs. Williams does not have the high ceiling of Hamilton, but plays aggressive and is a large body in the secondary.


Strengths

  • Plays downhill

  • Hard hitter/intimidator

  • Body control

  • Versatility in blitzing

Weaknesses

  • Drops shoulder/not wrapping

  • Flexibility

  • Shifty receivers

  • Backpedal to opening up


Final Analysis


James Williams is considered a tweener by many scouts who think he is 10-15 lbs. away from possibly being moved to outside linebacker. He has the pass rushing and coverage skills to make the change a possibility. He could be a unique weapon for the right defensive coordinator 


Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 4th or 5th round

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