Welcome to another Burgundy and Gold Report report small school spotlight Q&A.
While looking for the next hidden, small-school gem, I might have unearthed the most productive Grambling State University standout since former Redskins quarterback and current VP of Player Development, Doug Williams. That draft prospect is cornerback Joseph McWilliams. The 5’11” 175 lbs. defensive back from Baton Rouge, LA is eager to make the jump to the NFL. The Grambling defensive back, if selected would be the 2nd player from the SWAC division to make the Redskins’ roster since Southern University CB Danny Johnson, who was signed after going undrafted in 2018. In fact, according to McWilliams, the two are good friends.
Williams has fond memories during his time at Grambling and remembers the visits Doug Williams paid to the football team during his motivational speaking engagements. After Williams’ playing career concluded, he returned to his alma mater in 1997 to serve as the head coach, succeeding the legendary Eddie Robinson. The former Redskins signal caller finished with a career coaching record of 62-33 and makes frequent visits back to Grambling to talk to the staff and football team.
Although McWilliams has gone under the radar during the draft evaluation process, his ability and impressive statistics are undeniable. In three seasons, McWilliams (ineligible sophomore year) recorded 10 blocked kicks with 1 returned for 2 points, 11 ints with 5 returned for touchdowns, 2 forced fumbles and 15 passes broken up. These are impressive numbers regardless of the level of competition. McWilliams displays the attributes to be effective on the next level.
Pursuit & Instincts– McWilliams displays exceptional mental processing with his pursuit angles and has a knack for getting his hands on the ball, which was evident with his 11 ints in three seasons while at Grambling. McWilliams shows very good recovery speed and impresses with his ability to keep the play in front of him while taking solid angles after the reception.
Tackling– Fearless hitter who displays solid technique when bringing down ball-carriers/receivers which shows competitive toughness play in and play out. Understands leverage and angles when attacking the run game. Once he gets a hand on a ball-carrier, rarely does he give up YAC.
Speed– McWilliams displays an impressive jump off the snap, most notably on special teams, which he showed while leading the SWAC with 10 blocked kicks during his time at Grambling. Draft evaluators will be hard pressed to find a defensive back with those types of numbers in only three years. The corner displays the ability to effectively mirror receivers’ stride-for-stride while not getting handsy in coverage. When McWilliams gets his hands on the ball, he displays the ability to take it to the house every time with impressive acceleration and elusiveness.
In Coverage– Will not back down from bigger receivers. In fact, McWilliams seems to play better when faced with the challenge. Many smaller corners feel more comfortable playing off or bail coverage, but the Grambling corner uses an effective jam at the line with the ability to play in press coverage or zones schemes.
Getting to Know McWilliams- The Burgundy and Gold Report’s Exclusive Q&A Session with Joseph McWilliams
B&G Report- What do you consider your best attribute and what do you think you need to improve on during the pre-draft evaluation process?
“I think my best attribute would be play recognition it’s almost second nature when something isn’t right and I’m able to see it all in slow motion sometimes. I think I need to become faster and stronger for the most part no doubt about it.”
B&G Report- What were some of your biggest challenges thus far and how do you think it helped you become a better football player?
“My biggest challenges had to be protecting my side of the field at all cost especially when a play is to be made. It helped me because I’ve always learned about making the plays when they come to you.”
B&G Report- As a smaller defensive back, what do you believe separates you from other players at your position that will be vying for an NFL spot?
“Being smaller gives us a chance to stick to with smaller receivers that sometimes be getting that little space on bigger guys. Sometimes we can go accounted for and be the ones making plays on special team like blocking kicks.”
Fit in Washington
The latest reports that Quinton Dunbar might want out of Washington and the release of Josh Norman only fuels the need for more corners. Free Agency will, no doubt, be one avenue to address the position, but with little depth behind Fabian Moreau, Jimmy Moreland and the aforementioned Danny Johnson the Redskins would be wise to draft a corner with the ability to excel on special teams. Some evaluators have McWilliams as a late-round prospect who could go undrafted. Not getting an NFL Combine invite certainly stacks the cards against the Grambling corner who’ll be forced to display his talent at his pro day, but he’ll be up to the challenge.
With Washington’s cornerback situation in question, adding depth will be imperative. The Redskins have a number of needs to fill and cornerback is arguably one of their biggest. McWilliams displays the moxie to take the lead as a special teams’ demon. As the Redskins continue the youth movement and roster rebuild under Ron Rivera, investing a late round pick on a prospect like McWilliams could give a boost to the teams’ overall depth while also adding a potential special teams’ leader. The Grambling Grinder could be the next small school gem to make an impact on the next level and would be a welcomed addition in Washington.
By Adam Aniba
Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport and follow Joseph McWilliams @Dsg_babyjoe
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