In 2018, perhaps the most talked about player for the NFL draft was DE Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State. Every team monitored Chubb, with the Giants taking great notice of the player that lined up next to Chubb, BJ Hill. On Draft Day, Hill was drafted by the Giants.
That same year, the most coveted inside linebacker in the draft was Georgia's Roquan Smith. But like Hill, the Giants were drawn to the play of the outside linebacker playing next to Smith, Lorenzo Carter. And it was Carter that was drafted by the G Men.
A portion of the success of great college players like Chubb (5th overall) and Smith (8th overall) are the other teammates that surround them on the field.
In the upcoming April draft, the most highly rated Free Safety is Minnesota's Antoine Winfield, Jr., the son of NFL great Antoine Winfield Sr.
Winfield is an outstanding player, and deserves the praise he has earned on the field. But his defensive backfield teammate, Chris Williamson, has done an outstanding job as the Gophers slot corner.
Williamson played his high school ball in Georgia, He was heavily recruited and offered scholarships by 14 major colleges for his play at both WR and DB. He eventually chose the University of Florida, where he played mostly specials in 2015, with more time at corner in 2016. Though he played in 14 games in 2 years with the Gators, he decided it was best to transfer to Minnesota and play for former Rutgers WR coach PJ Fleck, who promised defensive play more suited to his talent.
The decision to transfer, which meant sitting out the 2017 season, was not just made by Williamson and his parents. The decision also included the man Williamson calls his 2nd Dad, former NFL great Ray Buchanan.
Buchanan and Williamson family had met at a training facility many years earlier. Buchanan took an immediately liking to Williamson, and he has counseled him for over 10 years, trying his best to mold him into what it takes to be successful in the NFL.
Last year Williamson was outstanding for the Gophers. His size (6' 205 pounds) is larger than most nickels and he finished the season with 56 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and an interception he turned into a Pick Six.
Three things to like about Williamson. In the Gophers defense, his position was often similar to a linebacker, showing the flexibility coach Judge seeks in his players. He is also a very willing and sure tackler. And finally, its important to talk about his speed.
Minnesota never had its Pro Day, but many felt that Williamson could run in the 4.3's had his Pro Day happened.
I expect Williamson to be a Day 3 draft pick. The Giants have a large number of Day 3 picks and clearly a need for a slot corner.