When entering the NFL 2019 draft, no position on the New England Patriots' list was deeper than that of the cornerback: led by All-Pro Stephon Gilmore, the group had an intriguing mix of experience and youth, versatility and physicality . Despite that, the team chose to add another piece exchanging and selecting Joeyuan Williams from Vanderbilt with the 45th general selection on Friday.
Shortly after hearing his name, the 21-year-old went to a conference call with the New England media to talk about his experience and what he will bring to the table. When listening to him speak, one of the attributes that stand out immediately is the confidence of Williams: the rookie, who has an unusually long length for a player in his position, certainly knows about his skills and productivity in college.
"I feel like I have the full package: I can run, cover and hit," Williams said when asked about his best defensive attributes. "At the end of the day, if you look at all my numbers in the SEC, I got the first place in everything, either in pbades defended, disintegrations of pbades, interceptions as corners, individual tackles as corners. So, I feel that this complete package is what I bring to the team. "
However, Williams' open nature extends beyond trust, and is also what made him a leader in Vanderbilt according to his own definition. "I definitely consider myself a leader," he said. "I feel like for myself, I led by example, I led by actions, I'm not the type that will scream and be in front of anything, I want to lead by action, I want to lead by making plays."
Making plays that Williams did in college, in part because of his intriguing set of skills, but also because of his versatility: the second-round pick has lined up in several places for the Commodores, although the team kept him on the perimeter during most of 2018. "Last year, the coaches wanted me mostly at the border by the end of the year and that's what I did," the new Patriot told the press.
"At the end of the day, I will do what the coaches say, I feel I can contribute anywhere," he added. In New England, Williams is likely to wear numerous hats: he could play a Brandon Browner-like role as a tall physical outside corner, move in to help cover tight ends and also contribute to the kicking game. And to do all his tasks successfully, Williams knows what he has to do: choose the brains of the players around him.
One of them is the aforementioned Stephon Gilmore. "Whatever I can get from him, I plan to pick him up," Williams said. "At the end of the day, he's one of the best in the league and I want to be one of the best in the league, I have to learn from the big guys and whatever I do (eating, sleeping, nutrition, treatment), I want to choose of him and trying to get him out of his game. "From playbook to life, that's something I want to learn because I want to be one of the greats like him."
Williams' enthusiasm for learning can also be seen in his commitment to sports. "I see a movie like I see Games of Thrones or something," said the second-round selection, who also said that one day he wanted to go training. "That's what I am, football runs in my blood, that's definitely how I work."