With the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine looming next week, all eyes in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ front office should be affixed to the defensive players in attendance, particularly at cornerback and outside linebacker. This year’s crop of cornerbacks is a strong one, led by mercurial Marcus Peters, Trae Waynes and P.J. Williams. All, one or maybe none of them could be available when the Steelers are on the clock, though the team would be very smart to do their homework, considering the position needs upgrades in the worst way. Peters is often viewed as an undeniable top-10 talent but his off-field temperament has put a dent in his draft status. However, one thing a corner should never lack is confidence, which is something Florida State’s Williams oozes with.
Possessing the typical build that the Steelers seem to prefer in their corners, the 6-foot-1, 196-pounder is a physical player that is as comfortable on an island as he is putting his nose in a pile and delivering hits.
Maybe his best asset is his superb play in press coverage where he uses his strength to impose his will, while at the same time, possessing the necessary wheels to shadow even the speediest receivers.
“Being able to be physical with receivers is one thing I like to do,” he said. “Being able to put my hand on them and be able to pretty much get them to do what I want them to do and being at the line and using good technique, it’s a good way to take one man out of the play.”
Another quality of Williams is one that will fall directly fall in-line with many of the players selected just last year, like Ryan Shazier and Martavis Bryant, and that can be summed up in one word-explosive.
At last year’s combine, former-Baylor running back and current Tennessee Titans running back Lache Seastrunk led the entire field of participants in the standing broad jump with a leap of 11 feet, 2 inches. At a recent workout, Williams landed 11 feet, 1 inch. After FSU’s BCS National Championship win over Auburn, Williams, the game’s defensive MVP, showed off his skills, which can be seen here.
“I’ve been able to flip since I was 6 years old,” he said. “It’s just something fun to do after training. After the national championship, I did a backflip.”
Much like fellow-cornerback Peters, Williams will be under a magnifying glass as well, although for entirely different reasons. In October, Williams and fellow-Seminole Ronald Darby were involved in a hit-and-run accident where they fled the scene. With the Tallahassee Police Department under scrutiny with the Jameis Winston fiasco, it was mentioned that the crime by Williams was downgraded to a traffic citation-again, showing the alleged department’s “preferential treatment” to student athletes. Williams knows this though, and is prepared for the onslaught of questions.
“I know it will come up,” Williams said. “It definitely has to be cleared up. The interview process is going to be long, so you have to stay focused and know what you came there for. I think I prepared very well.”
Aside from the interview process, Williams is training with speed coach Tom Shaw in Orlando, FL. to work on areas of his game, including toning down his downfield physicality, which will get him in trouble with the illegal-touch rules of the league.
“The main thing at the combine is just make sure I run a good 40-yard dash and test good on everything and make sure I’m smooth in the drills.”
Whoever ends up taking Williams will be getting a player high on motivation and not looking to let anyone down.
“I want to try and carry on that legacy, help a team win a Super Bowl and make any kind of impact I can,” he said. “This has always been one of my dreams, one of the things I wanted to do, so it’s crazy to be in this position.”
The Steelers have a rich history, including six Super Bowl titles, so expectations always run high. With their last top corner, Ike Taylor, having the nickname “Swaggin”, it’s fitting that another top prospect who’d appear to be on their radar is never at a loss for words.
All the great corners have it, from “Primetime” Deion Sanders to Richard Sherman. Williams has it too, and next week he’ll look to put his money where his mouth is.