BOSTON (CBS) — When the Patriots begin training camp, they’ll have a special task for second-year defensive back Joejuan Williams: Be ready to move around in the secondary.
According to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots are asking the 2019 second-round pick to become a “jack-of-all-trades” in the secondary — though a “Joe-of-all-trades” would be much more fitting for the thumper out of Vanderbilt.
Williams, drafted as a cornerback after New England traded up to take him at No. 45 last year, didn’t get much playing time as a rookie in a stacked New England secondary. He played just 82 defensive snaps in 2019, and none of those came at safety — though he did see time at the position in the preseason finale. Williams lined up at corner for 78 of those snaps (including 20 as a slot corner) during the regular season according Reiss, playing the other four snaps at linebacker.
So the kid does have some experience moving around and playing multiple positions at corner, and they must like his hard-hitting acumen if they put him at safety for a few snaps. Bill Belichick does have success asking a cornerback to move to safety as well, a la Devin McCourty making the switch in 2012. Not all shifts work as well as McCourty’s has, but it’s worth taking a look at what Williams can do at a different position.
With Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson locking down the corner grouping for New England, the Patriots are pretty set at the position. Williams, at 6-foot-3 and 212 lbs, may be able to find a slightly bigger role at safety, which the Pats are pretty set at as well with Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, 2020 second-round pick Kyle Dugger and veteran Adrian Phillips.
It remains unclear how Williams will fit into the mix in 2020, but expanding his versatility would be a good way for Belichick to explore every option to get another one of his head-scratching second-round selections on the field. And we know if there’s one thing Belichick loves most about any player, it’s how versatile they can be on the field.