The Denver Broncos are fortunate enough not to have to worry much about the left side of the field when playing defense, as the team can rest comfortably knowing one of the league’s best overall defensive players, Pat Surtain II, is a lockdown specialist.
Yet, the team could still use help in the secondary, as Ronald Darby is no longer around, and while the team still has K’Waun Williams in the fold for at least this year, he was best utilized as a nickel.
That leaves the other cornerback spot most likely to be left to second-year CB Damarri Mathis, who had an up-and-down rookie year, with Essang Bassey backing him up.
The unit is going to need both depth and impact for the upcoming season, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see the team use it’s third-round pick to address this area. If this is what they chose to do, Garrett Williams, formerly of the Syracuse Orange, is a name to watch for.
A physical, aggressive corner with the speed and reaction time to keep up with most NFL wide receivers, his stock took a hit after a torn ACL in October of 2022, but if he gets a clean bill of health, he could be a great value add in later rounds.
Garrett Williams — Cornerback — Syracuse
Height: 5’10” | Weight: 192 lbs.
Bench Press: N/A | Arm Length: 31” | Hands: 9 1/4”
40 Yard Dash: N/A | 10-Yard Split: N/A
Williams saw minimal action for the Orange as a true freshman before ultimately deciding to redshirt, and his patience paid off, as he became one of the ACC’s most impactful defensive players the next season.
Following his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons, he would be named honorable mention all-conference and led the conference in passes broken up each year. As a redshirt junior, he was praised by head coach Dino Babers and named a team captain.
He may not be the flashiest CB in the draft, but his overall skill set and discipline playing the position should get him hard looks from teams, likely starting on day two.
Film Room and Highlights
Positives: Williams plays with an aggressive nature and uses his elite physical strength to his advantage with exceptional ability to play through contact and big hitting skills. He is also extremely disciplined, committing zero penalties over the past two seasons. He also possesses great technique, both in coverage, and when tackling, almost always completely wrapping up his opponent to the ground. Too often great athletes playing in the secondary will try and throw a shoulder to take their opponent down, but Williams relies on his fundamentals. His quick first step and speed upon recovery also help him close out separation in a fast manner.
Negatives: First and foremost, his health will be something teams will closely monitor, as he is still less than a year removed from blowing out his ACL. Not that players cannot recover from that, but it is something that could make team’s pause. From a playing perspective, he plays best when in zone coverage and got beat quite a bit in man-to-man situations. Too often it seemed he would play his man rather than the football. He also lost more than he won in jump ball situations and could improve in that area. Lastly, while he plays with aggression, it sometimes bites him in run situations as he at times would overshoot the back and get juked.
Outlook: Likely a day 2 pick, he will be valued for his discipline, leadership, and fearless way of playing, but his recent injury along with some blemishes in non-zone situations will give teams pause..
Williams’ fit with the Broncos
Williams is projected as an outside corner in the NFL, and that is an area where the Broncos require both depth and impact. Mathis has potential to build on a a solid if imperfect rookie campaign, but the team needs more. Williams appears to have the necessary ability between the ears to adapt to the NFL quicker than most rookies, but he’ll need seasoning in certain critical areas. He does have the physical abilities to compete, perhaps not as an immediate starter, but as someone who can be put in spot situations and deliver when called upon. He can also be utilized in special teams coverage, something the team could use as well. If he medically checks out and is available, this is a player the Broncos could draft and develop into an eventual starter.