Joejuan Williams doesn’t want to make excuses for his slow 40-yard-dash at the NFL combine. The former Vanderbilt cornerback is disappointed by his 4.64-second time that put him near the bottom of his position.
At 6' 4" and 211 pounds, Williams was never going to run a blazing 40 time, but something in the low 4.5s was considered to be attainable heading into that early March run. But when pushed to find a reason for his time, Williams says he wasn’t feeling it in his legs that day. The explosion just wasn’t there. Add in a bad start to his runs in Indianapolis and you get two runs in the 4.6s.
The slow performance all but extinguished any chance of him sneaking into the first round, but he returned a week later to Vanderbilt’s pro day to run a much more respectable 4.55 that should be enough to help him make a case as a Day 2 pick.
“Since we had a quick rebound with the pro day, I wanted to get it over with and run at the combine,” Williams says by phone Tuesday afternoon as he waited in the Detroit airport following his 30 visit with the Lions—he also met with the Chiefs and Bills on visits, and he plans to participate in the Titans local pro day Friday. “At the end of the day, the NFL scouts and coaches, all of them say the same thing. They take your best time. I wish it would have went differently but I got out there and again, didn’t feel well but still ran. I don’t regret it at all.”
His 4.55 pro day time is the average time posted by defensive backs at the combine since 2003. But it’s well off the pace of the 4.43 average time by first-day cornerbacks.
Again, speed was never Williams’s calling card. He wins in two places: size and ball skills. Once drafted, he’ll enter the league as one of the tallest cornerbacks in the NFL. His lack of combine speed would seemingly push teams to consider him at safety—a position he played some in high school—but Williams says teams have only talked to him about playing outside cornerback.
Recall five years ago when teams were looking for tall corners in an effort to emulate the Legion of Boom (hello, Stanley Jean-Baptiste.) In this draft, four of the top receivers—D.K. Metcalf, N’Keal Harry, Kelvin Harmon, Hakeem Butler—stand 6' 2" or taller.
“This is a year where there are a lot of big receivers—6' 4", 225, 230 [pounds], whatever they are,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. “I mean, somebody has to cover those guys one of these days. I don’t know if that’s all going to be this year or not.”
And Williams is a ball hawker. He had 10 pass breakups in his sophomore season with the Commodores and followed that up last year with four interceptions and an SEC-high 14 pass breakups. He made second-team All-SEC in his junior season before opting to go pro.
“That’s something that I pride myself on and something I worked hard for,” Williams says. “It’s definitely something that teams value, someone that can impact the game and give the ball back to the offense.”
News and notes
It’s time for the annual medical re-checks in Indianapolis, and I’m told Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, a possible first-round receiver, got “very positive reviews” from doctors, according to a league source. Brown suffered a lisfranc injury to his right foot in December and had surgery that kept him out of combine drills and a pro day workout. Teams are aware he should be fully cleared by training camp. … NFL Network reported quarterback Daniel Jones will meet with Washington tonight and tomorrow. The team has previously met with QBs Dwayne Haskins,Drew Lock and Jarrett Stidham, and they’re considered to be a possible trade partner with Arizona for QB Josh Rosen. … Former Mississippi receiver A.J. Brown met with the Bills on Wednesday and has a top-30 visit scheduled with New England on Thursday, per a source. Brown set the Rebels’ single-season receiving record in his sophomore year with 1,252 yards and then broke it last season with 1,320 yards. … For the second time in 11 days, Browns GM John Dorsey has said he’d be willing to trade back into the first round after sending the No. 17 pick to the Giants for Odell Beckham Jr. “We’ll try to plan for every scenario that we can,’’ Dorsey said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “If we deem that there’s a player to move up for—that’s a hypothetical—if you think the player can help you, you go up and do it.” … The NFL announced Tuesday night the 23 players who will be attending the NFL draft in Nashville, including three quarterbacks. What caught my eye is the only Clemson Tiger on the list is Christian Wilkins. That’s a good thing for his friendly rivalry with former teammate Clelin Ferrell.
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