Kent State cornerback Jack Williams built a strong reputation for himself as a quick cornerback who can mirror his opponents, battle for position and use his leaping ability to thwart the aerial attack of his opponents. A three-year starter for the Golden Flashes, Williams picked off 13 passes and batted away another 21 during his college career.
Williams projects as a player who could contribute immediately at the next level as a nickelback who could take on the slot receiver, and as a special teams player primarily on coverage. The 5-foot-9, 186-pound defender is also a player to be accounted for against the run as evidenced by his 93 tackles (70 solo) during his senior year But he also has some experience as a kickoff returner, posting a 21-yards per return average on 12 attempts. During his junior year he was named Special Teams Player of the Year at Kent State.
While he didn't show it very well at the Combine, posting a 4.43-second 40 time, Williams has the speed that will help him adjust quickly to the pro game. He gave scouts a better glimpse of his true speed with a 4.32 40-time at his pro day.
Williams finished his collegiate career with 218 tackles, 2 sacks, 14.5
tackles for a loss, 13 interceptions, 21 passes defended, 7 forced fumbles, 12
kickoff returns and one punt return in 44 game appearances. He talked to me this
week about his career, the pre-draft process and the teams who have been showing
interest in him so far.
Ed Thompson: Jack, talk a little bit about your Combine experience...
Jack Williams: It was a good experience to see all the people you're used to watching on TV, all the big-name players that you're used to seeing, all in one place. A whole bunch of good athletes, and overall, good people because you never know what someone's like until you finally meet them. As far as my performance out there, I didn't do as well as I thought I was going to do. I don't really know what it was to tell you the truth. Everyone asks me why I ran so slow, but I don't know. I dropped a little weight before my Pro Day and I did better on everything.
Thompson: You dropped 9 to 10 pounds in just a little over a week between the Combine and your pro day. How did you do that?
Williams: Just running, running, and running. I had to take it back to the old-school, running with trash bags. I just tried to drop some water weight, nothing too crazy.
Thompson: Did you have the opportunity to do any formal interviews while at the Combine?
Williams: Yeah, I did. I met with the Eagles, the Buccaneers, and the Cowboys.
Thompson: Does anything stand out to you as you think back to those meetings?
Williams: They were all pretty much the same thing. The coaches try to drill you and see if you know football, and shout out questions while they're asking other questions. They try to know a little more about you because they only know what they've seen on film and on paper. When they finally get to meet you, they try to get it all in at one time and they only have about fifteen minutes.
AP Photo/Tony Ding
Thompson: What are some of the things coaches and scouts are telling you they like about the way you play football?
Williams: Even though I'm a smaller guy, that I'm physical and a good tackler. I'm real quick and fast.
Thompson: You are a physical player. During your college career you forced seven fumbles. What's your secret to success with that?
Williams: I just try to make plays and get the ball. If you can't pick it off or recover a fumble, try to force one. I just try to make a play for my team.
Thompson: At your Pro Day you improved your 40 time and you had a huge improvement of more than 5 inches on your vertical jump.
Williams: I got up to 41 (inches) on my Pro Day. At the Combine, I think they messed up my arm measurement. I heard somewhere that some of the arm measurements were a little off and everybody's been jumping a little higher at their Pro Days. I think that's probably what it was and I didn't get my arm remeasured at the Pro Day, so I'm not sure what my arm length was.
Thompson: When you were at your Pro Day, did anyone pull you aside to talk with you one-on-one?
Williams: I talked with the Giants, the Bengals, and the Browns.
Thompson: It had to be exciting that the current World Champions wanted to talk to you.
Williams: Yeah, definitely. I also talked to them at the Combine and I congratulated them on their championship. It was nice that they wanted to talk to me.
Thompson: Have you had any personal workouts or visits?
Williams: I had a personal workout out with the Patriots back on the 19th that went pretty well. I know I have the Falcons coming up soon and then I have a visit with Tampa Bay.
Thompson: Who came in to see you from the Patriots and what did they want to see at your workout?
Williams: The defensive coordinator and one of their personnel guys — I'm not sure of his exact job. They switched it up a little bit and did a little of everything. They did quick-feet stuff, some drills for a corner on the outside and then moved me inside to the slot to see if I could drop into coverages from the slot position and be a slot corner or nickleback. They moved me around a little bit to see if I was versatile enough to play.
Thompson: Did they watch some film with you?
Williams: Yeah, we watched some film and they went over some of their defense and some of our defense and how they compare.
Thompson: Were there a lot of similarities?
Williams: Oh yeah, there are a lot of similarities I wasn't even aware of. Their defense gets a little more confusing because they have more plays, but nothing that I wouldn't be able to handle.
Thompson: Do you have a date set for your visit to Tampa Bay? And what are you expecting from the experience of that first NFL visit?
Williams: It's on April 8th. I don't really know what to expect yet, I'm going to be talking to my agent about that. I'll have to be prepared to get on the board and answer all kinds of questions and basically just be me. That's what I did at the Combine — I showed them who I was and let them know I'm a regular guy.
Thompson: How cool would it be to learn your position at the pro level from a guy like Ronde Barber down in Tampa Bay?
Williams: He's an All-Pro corner, so it doesn't get any better than that. We're similar in size, I know he's a shorter guy, so there's definitely a lot he could teach me. And we could relate to one another as far as being shorter and smaller corners.
Thompson: If any of these teams were to say to you point blank "Jack, tell us why we should spend one of our draft picks on you," what would you say?
Williams: I'd tell them if you want a guy who will lay it all on the line and come to compete every single day and help you win, I'm one of those guys. If it's a huge role or a small role I'll be happy to get out there and help out anyway I can. Film is going to show them everything else I can do.