Whatever advantage the Cardinals have this week against the Patriots with Jimmy Garoppolo under center might be mitigated somewhat by the fact that Arizona will have a rookie starting in the secondary. Head coach Bruce Arians confirmed on Tuesday that the third-round draft pick has won the job at cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson.
Whether or not Williams is ready is a bit of a different story. Arians didn’t sing the soon to be 24-year-old’s praises, telling Kyle Odegard for AZCardinals.com, “He’s the best we’ve got, so he better be.”
Whoever lines up across the field from Peterson is usually a busy man, as quarterbacks tend to look away from the All-Pro — especially when there’s a rookie on the other side. That means Williams should be put to the test early and often, particularly in Week 1 when the Patriots will likely employ a game plan that protects Garoppolo.
Williams lists at 6-foot, 197 pounds. The Texas A&M product appeared in all four of the Cardinals’ preseason games, finishing the summer with seven tackles and two pass breakups.
Should Williams struggle, Arians would appear to be right in his assessment that the Cardinals are limited at the position. Beyond the starters are special teams ace Justin Bethel and former Chiefs backup Marcus Cooper.
At least the Cardinals aren’t asking Williams to be a star. With a high-powered offense, quality front seven and solid supporting cast in the defensive backfield, he’s actually set up to succeed even as a rookie. But boy is he going to see a lot of footballs thrown his way, and right out of the gate at that.