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Broncos roster review: Cornerback K’Wuan Williams

The Denver Broncos resolved their issues at slot when they signed cornerback K’Wuan Williams.

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NFL, Rams, 49ers, NFC Championship Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

When the Denver Broncos signed former San Francisco 49ers cornerback K’Wuan Williams to a two-year deal worth $7 million, they found their Bryce Callahan replacement at the slot corner position.

#21 K’Wuan Williams
5’09”, 183 lbs.
College: Pittsburgh

Williams is a seven-year veteran who went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft and has carved out a nice Chris Harris Jr-like career. Not quite as good as CHJ overall, but a guy who has been solid in the slot an undrafted player and Denver was able to get him at a significant deal.

How he fits with the Broncos

Denver had a significant need for a slot corner with the departure of Bryce Callahan and they went and found one of the best in 2022.

“Pretty much,” Williams said in May. “I’m mainly here to play nickel, but I’m hoping to play whatever the coaches need.”

Nickel is essentially the base defense for most teams in this era of an offense-focused NFL. Back in February, Joe Rowles discussed Williams’ potential for the Broncos if they would be able to sign him in free agency.

The Broncos have an immediate need at cornerback and Williams could make a ton of sense if he’s healthy in 2021. By Sports Info Solutions’ charting he allowed just 3.8 yards per target last season and Pro Football Focus credits him with just one touchdown allowed over the past two seasons.

In addition to what Williams brings to the table in coverage he’s willing to do what many corners consider dirty work. Williams is a capable run defender who shouldn’t be a liability in lighter personnel groupings, and he can be a threat in pressure packages. By SIS charting he’s averaged more than a blitz game over his entire career with the Niners and rushed 24 times in eight games a year ago. Before he took the Jets’ head coaching job Robert Saleh named a blitz after him.

Nickel is base in today’s NFL and the Broncos are no exception. They play more snaps with three corners on the field than three defensive linemen, so a slot corner is valuable.

Not much else to say about Williams. Denver are getting one of the NFL’s top slot corners in 2021 at just $3.5 million a year.

Final word

The only real cause for concern is Williams’ injury history. He has played in more than 14 games in a season only once. He has suffered a variety of lower body injuries and also concussions.

That is likely why Denver was able to sign him to such a favorable contract in free agency, but if they can get him for most of the season it will turn out to be an excellent signing by general manager George Paton.