With the 84th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals chose strong safety Shawn Williams. After the Bengals passed up on on safeties Matt Elam and John Cyprien with their first round pick in favor of Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, it was pretty unclear what their plan of action would be.
When day two of the draft began, only Cyprien was still on the board and by the time they got the whole way down to the fifth pick of the day, he was gone. It’s hard to tell if this is what they had envisioned going into the second round because although they certainly needed a safety, they were able to pick up running back Giovani Bernard with the 37th pick, someone they had their sights set on from pretty early on.
Waiting until the end of the third round to pick up a strong safety worked out to be a great move from the Bengals, as the only other SS that would have made a more fitting home in Cincinnati in my opinion was D.J. Swearinger, but the Bengals obviously had other plans.
Rookie safety Williams fell to the Bengals in the third round, and although this initially raised questions on whether or not the Bengals would sign a free agent safety such as Kerry Rhodes, who had visited their facility only the week before, head coach Marvin Lewis assured people that this was not the case. It seems that the Bengals have found their man to complement Reggie Nelson next season.
Williams has a work ethic like very few other rookies have, having the attitude and passion for his job earned him the Georgia Bulldogs ‘True Grit’ award two seasons in a row as his coaches felt that he was the most tenacious player in the Bulldogs talented defense.
After a great junior campaign in 2011, hauling in four interceptions as well as 10 passes defended and 72 total tackles, Williams was considered to be one of the NCAA‘s top safeties going into the 2012 season. Although he didn’t manage to get any interceptions in his senior year, he showed that he still had extremely good work ethic and built himself a reputation as a hard-hitter racking up 98 tackles in 2012.
His work covering tight ends on lateral routes was a big reason why he fell to the third round, but over the course of the offseason, and in fact his rookie season too, the Bengals can work on his coverage and make him one of the most feared safeties in the NFL.
The main question surrounding Williams entering the 2013 season will not be whether or not he can make an impact on the field next season, but how big will that impact be? As I said earlier, he needs to work on his coverage on lateral routes and last season raised questions on whether he would be capable of many interceptions as a safety, but one thing is for sure, he’s not a shy tackler and even criticized his team mates as being “Too Soft.” This, along with his speed and ability to cover a team’s big receiver, could bring a great rookie season to the safety.
Prediction: 64 tackles, one interception, six passes defended
Simon Greene – Cincinnati Bengals Writer. Follow Simon on Twitter @simongreene88