Joejuan Williams’ 2019 season went just about as everyone expected after the New England Patriots traded up and selected the Vanderbilt cornerback in the second round of the NFL draft.
Williams had trouble getting on the field, appearing in nine games with only 80 defensive snaps and 84 special teams sitting behind a talented crop of cornerbacks above him on the Patriots’ depth chart.
The rookie let up three catches on seven targets for 32 yards. He registered five tackles and a pass breakup.
The Williams pick was criticized by some Patriots fans in retrospect after his lack of playing time. That Williams didn’t see the field frequently doesn’t necessarily mean it was a bad selection. Williams very well could go on to have a long and prosperous career with the Patriots.
It is true, however, that the Patriots received very little out of their second-round pick in 2019. If the Patriots had drafted for need in that spot by selecting a tight end or another wide receiver, it’s possible they would have received more value out of the pick in Year 1.
Williams is an interesting player at 6-foot-4, 211 pounds. He projects to match up well with big wide receivers and athletic tight ends. Williams certainly didn’t have a bad season when he was on the field. He was hardly noticed, which typically is good for a cornerback.
Williams has made headlines since the season concluded, however. He was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, possession of drugs without a prescription and possession of drug paraphernalia when police found marijuana, painkillers and another prescription drug in his car. It’s possible Williams could receive discipline from the NFL, but he likely won’t be punished by the Patriots.
However, it’s no guarantee that Williams will receive more playing time in 2020. He still has Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, Jonathan Jones and Jason McCourty above him on the depth chart. Justin Bethel, D’Angelo Ross and Lenzy Pipkins also are on the Patriots’ roster. Williams could see playing time if the Patriots don’t exercise their team option on McCourty this offseason. He’d still face an uphill battle to pass Gilmore, Jackson or Jones.
The Patriots could still utilize Williams in a hybrid role covering tight ends from a box role. The majority of his defensive snaps came outside in 2019, though he did see 22 reps inside.
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