An integral part of Nebraska’s Blackshirt defense, Deontai Williams ability to play back in coverage and come up in run support was key to the defense’s success in 2021. After participating in the Tropical Bowl, Williams enjoyed a solid Pro Day to help showcase his skills to the NFL. Here is a look at Deontai Williams NFL Draft scouting Report highlighting his strengths, concerns and how he projects to the NFL Draft.
Height: 5’11 ¼”
Hand: 8 ⅝”
Arm: 31 ⅝”
Wingspan: 74 ¾”
Trait Grade: 6.8/10 (Average)
Projection Grade: 5.0/10 (End of Roster/Practice Squad)
Projection: Undrafted Free Agent
- Explosive straight line speed that allows him to fly to the ball
- Can run down the seam with tight ends and some receivers
- Used as a blitzer off the edge
- Loves to create collisions and use physicality to create plays
- Able to make routine hands catches to make interceptions
- Has experience playing man coverage in the slot
- Limited good range which limits his coverage ability
- Stiff hips make it tough for him to cover man to man
- Lacks the ability to make quick changes of direction
- Sometimes wants to the big hit instead of the tackle
- Would rather lay a hit than try to break up a pass
At Nebraska Deontai Williams was asked to wear many hats playing in a Cover 4 system that saw him matched up in the slot, rush off the edge and play both single high and half field zone coverage. But Williams has all the makings of a traditional strong safety whose best used coming forward. Williams loves contact and wants to create collisions both in the run game and in coverage.
In the run game Williams is quick to run the lane and make tackles along the sideline or even coming up to fill a hole. Williams has shown this from back at safety or even up on the edge as a blitzer. As a tackler Williams can be more willing to lay a hit with body rather than wrapping up.
Back in coverage is where Williams starts to become more limited. Williams has stiff hips and lacks good range to be a post safety. Playing downhill is more of Williams’ strong suit where he can see and then react in a hurry. In 2021 Williams posted a career high 4 interceptions showing the ability to go find the ball, but he’d much rather lay a hit on the receiver to jar the ball loose than get a hand in to break up the pass.
Safeties in the NFL need to cover to be able to play deep in coverage, cover in the slot and be a force player in the run game. Teams need their starters to be able to do two of the three. For Williams he is only proficient at being a force player which limits his appeal to NFL teams. Because of this Williams will go undrafted and have to make his mark during rookie OTAs and training camp. Williams has an uphill battle but it would shock me to see him finding a role on special teams and having a nice three to four year run as a special teams player.