Giants seventh-round pick Chris Williamson, a 6-foot, 205-pound prospect, initially started on a path that saw him play wide receiver.
So what made the former Minnesota defensive back change his mind—and his position?
The answer is Ray Buchanan, who played cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons and who was also part of the Falcons’ 1998 Super Bowl team.
Buchanan formed a friendship with Williamson when the youngster was in eighth grade, taking him under his wing to help train him for a potential future in the NFL.
Buchanan, a two-time All-Pro cornerback (1994 and 1998) who played in the NFL for 12 seasons, (seven of which with the Falcons), knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a defensive back and thought that a position switch might be in Williamson’s best interest given his size.
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“The one nugget that Ray always put in my head was, ‘You know, you're an average size receiver, but you're, you're a big defensive back and a guy who can move,’” Williamson said, adding, “It’s not too many guys who could move and get paid at the next level.”
Although Williamson cross-trained with Buchanan to learn how to play defensive back, he didn’t play the position in live-action until his senior year of high school, and the rest was, as they say, history.
Not only does Buchanan, whom Williamson described as being like a second father to him, impart his experiences on the young cornerback, Buchanan also served as a sounding board when Williamson was contemplating transferring from Florida.
“He's always a person who's had my best interests at heart, so he always wanted what was best for me,” Williamson said. “He was a huge asset to have during that time, and the transition from wide receiver to defensive back is something he also helped me with as well. It's been huge to have him in my corner.”
When they’re not training together in person, Williamson tried to get clips of his film to his friend and mentor to break down from a technical aspect.
“Just having somebody like that who has already played in the NFL is a huge blessing,” Williamson said.