It’s been a busy offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles and one that has seen the secondary completely transform. Darius Slay headlines an impressive free agency haul, giving the Birds a shutdown corner after years of mediocrity, while names like Nickell Robey-Coleman look sure to inject some spice into the slot role. But there’s one signing who remains under the radar.
Enter 26-year old Trevor Williams. Signed right at the start of the offseason, the former Charger has fallen blissfully beneath the radar but that likely won’t last long. At 5’11, 191 lbs, Williams is of a very similar build to Slay (6’0, 190 lbs) and has arguably been in the same echelon as productivity…when healthy.
It’s ironic that this signing came so shortly after Howie Roseman pledged to be far more meticulous when weighing up injury risk, as that’s the whole reason his name has made barely any noise at all. Williams ended the 2018 season on IR with a knee sprain suffered in week 10 after amassing 4 passes defensed in 9 games. In 2019, he’d end up on IR once more after enduring a quad strain as early as week 2. The Chargers would waive him later on and after a very short stint in Arizona where he played in solely special teams snaps, he was waived from there too, ending up in Philadelphia.
But why did they take a shot?
Before the injury bug savagely sunk its teeth into the career of Williams, he was struggling…or so it seemed. Our man Morgan Burkett did some digging to reveal that in a stunning 2017 campaign, he ranked as PFF’s 10th best corner and stunningly allowed a passer rating of 10.4 on throws that came 2.6+ seconds after the snap (deep attempts).
On the surface, his 13 passes defensed are enough to raise eyebrows. But even his 2018 season was head-and-shoulders above that of Ronald Darby.
Playing opposite Casey Hayward, Williams is more than familiar with what it takes to be the running-mate of a star cornerback. Here’s how that season compared to the last two played by Ronald Darby in midnight green:
|Trevor Williams (2018)||Ronald Darby (2019)||Ronald Darby (2018)|
It’s clear that Williams is an instant upgrade over Darby (that doesn’t take much) providing he can stay healthy, but what’s the ceiling?
To me, Williams is very reminiscent of another free agent corner, who also played for the Chargers, poached by the Eagles following a down year – Patrick Robinson.
Robinson was electric during his time with the Chargers in 2015. His numbers weren’t amazing, but a 55.9% completion rate allowed absolutely was. In his lone year there, Robinson showed the potential he had flashed at times playing for the Saints.
According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed 8.9 yards per catch during that season, the best among corners targeted 40 times or more. When lined up in the slot, he allowed 0.78 yards per coverage snap, the second-best among corners targeted over 200 times in the slot.
Robinson struggled outside during training camp…because he wasn’t an outside corner. When a trade for Ronald Darby forced him into the slot, he went on to become one of the team’s most impactful acquisitions of the Doug Pederson era.
Williams will have a Mountain to climb if he is to win the starting CB2 spot. Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox, and even Rasul Douglas will all stand in his way as players drafted by the Eagles, but all have doubts looming over them.
Sidney Jones has consistently battled injuries since being drafted, Avonte Maddox is predominantly a slot corner who has been forced to be versatile thanks to injuries elsewhere, and Rasul Douglas can’t seem to find his footing under Schwartz. This presents a slim window of opportunity for Williams, who is still young, to go out when camp does resume and pick up where he left off with the Chargers, as Patrick Robinson did before him.
Williams is the perfect corner to partner Darius Slay, who is also built almost identically to Casey Hayward. The two also have mirroring skillsets which bodes very well for Williams to regain hat sense of familiarity, knowing he has a lockdown corner taking away a team’s WR1.
He’s only signed to a one-year deal, so like Robinson, Williams’ future very much rests on the success of his 2020 campaign. Bouncing to the Cardinals and being waived soon after saw him tumble out of sight for many, but he didn’t tumble out of mind for the Eagles. We’ll now get to see if this once highly productive corner can re-assert himself into a starting position.