FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots second-round pick Joejuan Williams had an impressive summer at his natural position, cornerback. So, for the Patriots’ final preseason game, coaches have moved the standout rookie to a new position: safety.
Williams started the game at safety next to Malik Gant with Keion Crossen, Duke Dawson and Ken Webster playing cornerback. There could be two potential reasons for this:
- The Patriots likely would have used Obi Melifonwu or A.J. Howard as the second safety against the New York Giants, but Melifonwu has been out the last two weeks, and Howard missed practice late in the week with an apparent injury. The Patriots probably didn’t want to play Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Terrence Brooks or Nate Ebner in the fourth and final preseason game if they didn’t have to.
- Williams could give the Patriots additional depth at safety. He’s big at 6-foot-3, 212 pounds and could be asked to cover bigger receivers and more athletic safeties in a hybrid-safety role. Some NFL draft analysts predicted Williams could move to safety since he’s big and ran a sub-optimal 40-yard dash.
Regardless of the reason, it’s an interesting twist for the fourth and final preseason game of the summer. Williams might have a hard time finding consistent playing time with Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones and JC Jackson above him on the cornerback depth chart. Perhaps he could find some snaps at safety this season instead.