Fayetteville State is without an NFL Draft pick on their resume for over four decades, but cornerback Joshua Williams is looking to end that drought. See why in this 2022 NFL Draft Profile.
Height – 6’3”
Weight – 195 Pounds
DOB – October 17, 1999 (22 years old)
School – Fayetteville State
Position – Cornerback
Arm Length – 32 7/8”
Hand Size – 9 1/2”
Wingspan – 78 1/8”
40-Yard Dash – 4.53 Seconds
Vertical Jump – 36”
Broad Jump – 124”
Joshua Williams grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina and started his high school career as a track star at Jack Britt High School. He eventually found his way to Palmetto Prep Academy in Columbia, South Carolina, where he spent his final season preparing for any college offers that came his way.
Unfortunately, the big name schools never came calling. This did not deter Williams, as he decided to go back to his hometown and enroll at Fayetteville State, a little-known division-two HBCU. The stud cornerback has went on to become arguably the best player in the schools’ history, capping off a stellar career with a three interception campaign in 2021.
Williams turned this hard work into invites to the Senior Bowl and NFL Draft Scouting Combine, something that NEVER happens for prospects in the CIAA. He made the most of these opportunities, cementing himself as the top HBCU-prospect in 2022. At the Senior Bowl, he stood out in the one-on-one portion, showing that his college production wasn’t due to playing lesser talent. His tape proved to be legit.
After excelling at every phase of the offseason, Williams turned his sights to the Combine in Indianapolis. Upon arriving at Lucas Oil Stadium, it was clear that Williams belonged. Again, he showed out in individual workouts. His 4.53 40-yard dash didn’t blow anyone away, but the rest of his workouts, combined with an NFL-ready frame, makes that 40 time less of a worry.
Williams had to scratch and claw to get to this point, and full disclosure, the amount of tape available is underwhelming to say the least. I managed to track down a few games, and have watched every rep he took at the Senior Bowl and the Combine. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what makes Williams the odds on favorite to end the drought for HBCU players being selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.
2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Size – Joshua Williams possesses an ideal frame for a starting cornerback in the NFL in 2022. He stands at nearly 6’3”, checks in at 195 pounds, and has a wide wingspan. This is exactly the type of package that scouts are looking for in a prospect. There are legit concerns in Williams’ game, but his size is not one of them.
Technique – Williams’ technique is nearly flawless from what I saw. He has extremely fluid hips and does well at changing direction along with his assignment in pass coverage. At the Senior Bowl he exhibited impeccable footwork, and regularly put himself in position to make a play on the ball.
Work Ethic – This goes without saying when you realize that Williams is looking to be the first Fayetteville State player drafted in over four decades. He was slept on in high school, and chose a path that he knew wouldn’t be easy. His never-ending desire to improve is what kept the hunger alive for Williams’ NFL aspirations.
Versatility – I had the thought while watching that Williams can succeed in any scheme. He is very smart, and has a great understanding of his assignments as a zone defender. Additionally, he is willing to chop it up with anyone on an island. He fears no man and believes he can win any matchup.
Potential – The fact that Williams has only had minimal experience with professional coaching, there’s reason to believe that he can grow into an even more polished player than he already is. This thought is supported by the steady improvement that Williams made each day at the Senior Bowl. It may take a couple years to get there, but he offers a tantalizing final product if developed correctly.
Experience vs NFL Talent – As a D2 player, it goes without saying that Williams did not line up against NFL-caliber receivers’ at any point of his collegiate career. That changed during Senior Bowl week. While Williams held up well against better talent, it is something that he must continue to do after being drafted. Fair or not, he is going to have to prove himself to whatever locker room he ends up in.
Top-End Speed – Williams moves well laterally while progressing downfield in pass coverage. He is not particularly fast, however. Due to his play style, he can mitigate much of this concern but the top-tier guys in the NFL will cause him some trouble with speed. That can be said about any cornerback though, so this isn’t something that should scare off teams from picking him.
Strength – While his overall frame is great for the position, he’s going to have to add some strength to it. He did well in run support, but it was evident that his lack of strength can be a detriment during his time at the Senior Bowl. He checked nearly every box during his week in Mobile, but one that remains unchecked heading into the 2022 NFL Draft is his overall play strength.
Joshua Williams is in line to be only the second HBCU player selected in the NFL Draft since 2019. He is also looking to end a 40+ year hiatus of Fayetteville State players’ hearing their name called. Williams worked his way up, and never had anything come easy. After going unnoticed on the recruiting trail, Williams landed at his hometown school and continued his journey with an eye towards the NFL Draft. Through all doubt, he earned an invite to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine. He made the most of these opportunities and now finds himself firmly in discussion as a late day-two pick. I have him graded as a third-rounder, profiling as an eventual starter in the league.