The Bills were expected to address their secondary on Day 3 of the NFL draft and wasted no time using their fourth-round pick at 105th overall to take Nevada safety
Williams (5’11”, 201) is a safety that offers great versatility, something that is becoming a growing theme among the defensive players chosen by Buffalo in this draft.
“There’s a lot of things to like about Duke,” said Bills scout Brad Forsyth. “Probably first and foremost how tough and physical he is as a player. You like his aggressiveness on the field. He likes to come down the alley and hit people, but he’s also got instincts and awareness.”
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An explosive athlete that loves to hit, Williams is more of a strong safety than free, but in defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme, Forsyth believes that Williams can play both safety roles and even match up with wideouts in coverage.
“He’s a kid that can play some corner if need be,” said Forsyth. “He has those type of skills. You can slide him inside in nickel as well as playing in the deep secondary. I think there are a lot of things you can do with this kid and his special teams value makes it even better.”
“In our scheme I was able to match up on tight ends and slot receivers and even ‘X’ receivers,” said Williams. “I was not limited to just playing the line of scrimmage. I did a lot of things and was real versatile in the scheme. It’s not one thing we really focused on we mixed it up a little bit. It was a mixture of everything.”
A veteran of 38 starts in his college career Williams is a solid tackler who yielded an average of 2.26 yards per carry on his tackle plays, speaking to his quick run-pass recognition skills. The rest of his Nevada team allowed 4.86 yards per carry versus the run.
“It’s all instincts,” said Williams. “It becomes easier over time. The game starts slowing down and it’s easier to make reads and it’s easier to play football. That just comes from watching film and being a student of the game.”
Also proving capable against the pass Williams had 232 passes targeted in his area and allowed just 56 to connect for only a 24.1 percent completion percentage. The safety is seen as an effective coverage player when it comes to re-routing defenders, and was part of a Nevada secondary in 2011 that led the nation in opponent completion percentage (48.3%).
“He’s got good hands and ball skills,” said Forsyth. “I don’t know if you saw the highlights of him going up over the top of receivers. Not many receivers can make some of the catches he made so I like his hands and ball skills as well.”
Williams ran in the mid-4.4s for a 40 time at his pro day. The safety’s 37-inch vertical and 10-foot six-inch broad jump also speak to his explosiveness.
The Nevada product met twice with the Bills during the pre-draft process, once at the East-West Shrine game and against at the Senior Bowl.
“They were one of the teams that said if I was up on the board that they would take a chance on me and they did,” said Williams.
Williams also has a past history of off the field issues. In his first year at Nevada he was suspended three times for various minor offenses including an altercation with a teammate.
“Earlier in my college career I had a few minor incidents that occurred,” said Williams. “I got suspended for a few games and it’s something you learn from as a person growing up. One thing I’ll say is I became a better person from those mistakes I made. It’s great, the outcome is I’m still on a team and able to make it and get drafted and help the organization win a championship.”