Cincinnati Bengals: Will Shawn Williams be the Starting Safety Week 1?

By Simon Greene
Shawn Williams
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

With the 84th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals chose strong safety Shawn Williams. After the Bengals passed up on safeties Matt Elam and Jonathan Cyprien with their first-round pick in favor of Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, leaving the Bengals with little other choice but to wait until round three and hope that Williams is still available. Luckily for the Bengals, this is just like pretty much every decision they made in this years’ draft worked out well for them.

Although considered to be one of the top future safeties going into his senior year in 2012, his work covering tight ends and slot receivers on lateral routes was a big reason why he fell to the third round. But with 98 tackles and widely considered to be one of the hardest workers (even calling his teammates “Too Soft”) in the entire NCAA, this issue will likely not hold him back too much as he works with the Bengals coaches in the offseason.

The most promising prospect that Williams has going for him is not what a hard hitter or hard worker he is, but in fact his competition. Current starting safety Taylor Mays has not proven himself to be a wise decision maker since joining the team in 2011 and in fact since being drafted to the NFL in 2010. Despite being one of the most athletic players in the NFL, Mays could not get his act together and the Bengals ended up re-signing veteran safety Chris Crocker. This meant that Mays only played around 25% of snaps last season.

Williams doesn’t need to be the best safety in the league in order to be a starter next season, he just needs to beat out Mays to play alongside Reggie Nelson, and given his work ethic and hard hitting, it’s almost a certainty.

Probability: 90%

Simon Greene – Cincinnati Bengals Writer. Follow Simon on Twitter @simongreene88

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