It’s no secret, the San Francisco 49ers are in need of cornerbacks and after the 2014 season they might be in need of another one if they decide to let current starter Chris Culliver walk. Someone for 49ers fans to keep an eye on during the 2014 college season is P.J. Williams out of Florida State University.
Schematically speaking, Williams isn’t the greatest fit for what the 49ers like to do in their secondary. At FSU, Williams was playing a lot of zone. The 49ers play some zone but mainly like to play man. However, when FSU asked Williams to play man coverage, he played very physical and did well with press coverage.
One aspect that Williams excels in is his ability to diagnose plays. He was able to tell very quickly if it was a run play, screen pass, etc. Something else that jumped off the screen when watching his game tapes was his ability and willingness to tackle. He’s never afraid to make a tackle, uses good form, and doesn’t miss many. He’s also extremely willing to take on blocks from offensive linemen and doesn’t get pancaked in the process. All of these things are extremely valuable to the 49ers when they’re looking for players in their secondary.
The part of Williams’ game that needs the most improving is definitely his footwork. There were multiple occasions a wide receiver was able to turn Williams around in coverage because he took the wrong first step. While this is a big flaw in his game that can be exploited, it is also something that can be fixed this year in college or by the 49ers coaching staff if that’s where Williams ends up.
Overall, Williams would end up being a great fit in the 49ers’ secondary. At this point, he wouldn’t be ready to come in right away and get major playing time but would be a project with very good upside. His physicality, quickness, tackling ability, and instincts all make him appealing to a team like the 49ers. And while his footwork needs improving, it wouldn’t be enough to make teams steer clear of him come draft time. Assuming Williams makes average progress this season with the Seminoles, it would be reasonable to assume the 49ers could steal him in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL draft.