Patriots moving 2019 second-rounder Joejuan Williams to safety

Joejuan Williams is moving to safety.

New England Patriots cornerback Joejuan Williams came into the league with a reputation as a slower defensive back, and that lack of athleticism led to limited playing time during a rookie season spent mostly on the bench. Bill Belichick will try to change Williams’ position in an effort to get him on the field more frequently.

Williams, who will struggle to see playing time due to the logjam at cornerback, has been taking reps at safety, meaning he might end up being the one who replaces Patrick Chung after the veteran opted out of the 2020 season.

Joejuan Williams was a highly-touted draft prospect before a bad combine

Williams, who stands 6-3 and weighs 210 pounds, drew rave reviews for his excellent performance as a cornerback in Vanderbilt’s zone-heavy defense, but a poor combine raising questions about his speed and being drafted by a team that runs a lot of man coverage has prevented him from exploding out of the blocks in his pro career. Williams recorded just five tackles during his rookie season.

While Devin McCourty, who also converted from cornerback to safety under Belichick, remains one of the game’s best safeties, there is a hole in that secondary created by losing Chung. While 2020 second-round pick Kyle Dugger has been mentioned as a potential candidate to fill the void, but Williams might take over the starting role if Dugger struggles to make the jump don D-II to the NFL.

Williams struggled to acclimate to Belichick’s scheme and the rigors of the NFL in his first season. While his rookie struggled are understandable, moving to safety might be the best long-term move, as it will allow him to take advantage of his range in zone coverage, which was his best trait as a prospect.

Next: New England’s new starters

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