As the 49ers continue their quest for a safety, or multiple safeties, one name they might take a look at is former Nevada standout Duke Williams. While he wouldn't be an early pick, where most of the focus seems to be these days, he does have the physical attributes and raw tools to be a good free safety. Let's take a closer look.
Vertical Jump: 37.5"
Broad Jump: 126"
Bench Reps: 13
2012: 105 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1 INT, 9 PBU, 3 FF. All-Mountain West Team selection.
- Physical player, not afraid of contact, likes to hit.
- Sprinter speed shows up when closing on ball/ball-carrier/receiver.
- Good balance, smooth back-pedal and fluid hips.
- Makes plays on the ball, even difficult catches.
- Sucked in by play action when playing too aggressive in run game.
- Size could become concern vs. NFL sized receivers (conflicting measurements, also).
- Multiple off-field incidents with the law (underage alcohol possession, driving with suspended license, no insurance).
Doing your homework:
The only current collection of cut-ups is embedded below, from Williams' game against Boise State. Feel free to add any more clips you find in the comments section.
Why he fits the 49ers:
Williams is physical, a trait that is still desirable in San Francisco, even after Mike Singletary's departure. In a division (and league) seemingly loaded with larger receivers and athletic tight ends, this is important. However, he also has the speed and athleticism to make a good deep zone player who can break on the ball and either separate it from the receiver or make the interception. Speed, ball-tracking and instincts are things that can't be taught. Williams has a private visit lined-up with the 49ers, also.
Why he might not fit the 49ers:
There are multiple height/weight combos listed for Williams. Some have him at 5'11" 200+lbs while others give him another inch in height but only 190 lbs. of weight. This isn't a huge concern, but being short can rear it's ugly head as a free safety. The weight would concern me more, but we know an NFL training regimen can easily add the right kind of pounds for a player.
Williams also needs to work on staying disciplined in coverage when presented with run fakes. His off-field issues will have to be fully vetted prior to the 49ers spending a mid-round pick on him, too.
What they're saying:
- NFL.com has this to say about Williams:
Williams is able to use his sprinter's speed and nice agility to negate receivers downfield. He also has experience in man assignments versus slot players. While Williams' doesn't possess a large build, he is more than willing to throw his body around with impunity.
- Russ Lande of National Football Post has this to say:
Williams is an outstanding athlete for the safety position. He has the speed and range to make plays against the run on the boundary as well as run with every NFL TE and RB in man coverage. He displays loose hips, which allows him to change directions fluidly to stay with his man in space.
Williams is a bit raw and would need work with Ed Donatell before he get's on the field; that much seems certain. But, he has rare speed and range, tracks the ball and makes the play when he gets there. He'll need to work on tackling and play recognition, but read the scouting on almost every college safety and you'll find the same weaknesses against play action, etc. As a potential fourth round pick or later, I see tremendous upside and athleticism that doesn't currently exist on the roster. I'm sure Colin Kaepernick will be happy with the pick, too, being that he also went to Nevada.
If you want to see some potential, take a look at this video of Duke's "highlights". Note he wore No. 20 for a while, then switched to No. 5. Check out his hands and tracking ability on some of the INTs, the ferocity he plays with and how he flashes into the screen like a bullet. These attributes get me excited and I think the 49ers could work with Duke's collection of skills.