Patriots Draft Vanderbilt’s Williams In Second Round, Three Players In Third Round

BY KYLE HIGHTOWER

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The Patriots have taken their first step in upgrading its aging secondary, selecting cornerback Joejuan Williams in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday night.

New England chose the former Vanderbilt standout with the No. 45 overall pick. At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds he is a physical player that showed range in college. He had four interceptions and 14 pass breakups as a junior last season.

The Patriots began the night holding two picks in the second round and three in the third. They traded their top pick of the second round (No. 56 overall) and the lowest of their three picks of the third round (101st overall) to the Rams to draft Williams.

Williams said he felt good about the possibility of going to New England after going through a private workout for coach Bill Belichick and his staff. He said Belichick shared that he primarily views Williams as a cornerback, though he is willing to fill any role that’s needed.

“I feel like I can contribute anywhere,” Williams said.

He joins a stacked group at cornerback for the Patriots that already includes Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, Duke Dawson and Keion Crossen.

Williams also joins Obi Melifonwu, primarily a special teamer, as the tallest players in in the defensive back group.

Williams said he is most comfortable playing on the boundary, and he is looking forward to picking the brain of Gilmore — an All-Pro last season.

“He’s one of the best in the league and I want to be one of the best in the league,” Williams said. “I have to learn from the greats. Whatever he does — eating, sleeping, nutrition, treatment — I want to get from him and try to get off his game. Whether it’s from playbook to life, it’s something I want to learn.”

That said, Williams said he feels like he is a natural leader and exhibited those skills at Vanderbilt, breaking down opposing receivers and sharing that information with his teammates each week.

Aside from helping the team prepare for their upcoming opponent, he said it was early practice for what he wants to do after his football career is over.

“I want to be a coach after this game is over with,” he said. “This is just helping me get to that level. … I watch film like I watch ‘Game of Thrones’ or something. Football just runs in my blood. That’s just how I work.”

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