Easy targets beware: Chris Williamson is coming.
Williamson already proved he can deliver a cutting punch line at the expense of childhood-rival-turned-Giants teammate Darius Slayton. Whenever NFL practices resume, the rookie seventh-round draft pick will show he can lower the boom on ball-carriers, too.
“He is the one in the meeting room that keeps the energy going,” Joe Harasymiak, Williamson’s position coach at Minnesota, told The Post. “If he knows he can joke with you and bust on you, he is going to. He will be a great teammate.”
Williamson’s material on Slayton dates to when they were on opposite sides of the 9-year-old championship game in the Gwinnett (Ga.) Football League. Slayton’s team arrived at the field in two Hummer stretch limousines escorted by 20 motorcycles, but Williamson’s team cruised to a 14-0 victory to avenge a previous mercy-rule loss.
“His team hadn’t lost a game in 2-3 years,” Williamson said. “These are 9-year-old kids, pulling up in limousines. They were expecting to win. I know it had to be kind of embarrassing pulling up in a limousine and losing. It’s something I still hold over Darius to this day. I don’t think they even rode the limos home.”
Slayton immediately endorsed Williamson to Giants fans on his Twitter account as a “late pick y’all will love.” Bygones be bygones — except for Slayton’s joke to leave a “bag of poop” in Williamson’s locker to even the score.
“We were the greatest 9-year-old team ever,” Slayton wrote, defending the overconfident grand entrance. “It was deserved at the time.”
Fourteen years later, the Giants determined Williamson deserved a shot to compete at their defense’s so-called “star” position — a hybrid safety and slot cornerback — because of his size-speed combination. A coordinator change late in Williamson’s junior season afforded him the opportunity to blossom in blitzing, run defense and man-to-man coverage.
“Every team I talked to kind of had that same idea for me,” Williamson said. “I’d be a guy who’d kind of be like a Swiss Army knife and can do multiple things on the back end.”
The 6-foot, 205-pound Williamson played offense until senior year of high school — he likes to boast about being an all-state receiver in talent-rich Georgia — but switched positions at the urging of mentor and trainer Ray Buchanan, a former NFL All-Pro cornerback.
Submit questions on your favorite New York teams to be answered in an upcoming mailbag
“The one nugget that Ray always put in my head was you’re an average-size receiver, but you’re a big defensive back that can move,” Williamson said. “There’s a lot of things about the game he teaches me. Things I may not see. I have the opportunity to send him clips of film from practice and he’ll break down for me stuff that I did wrong.”
Harasymiak estimates Williamson, a Florida transfer, would have hit the coveted sub-4.5 seconds mark in the 40-yard dash if Minnesota held its pro day. Williamson totaled 57 tackles, 2.5 sacks and an interception for a touchdown in his one full season starting and has a future lining up on kickoffs and an edge protector on punts.
“He’s got feet like a corner, he’s built like an inside slot nickel and he can cover from depth as a safety,” Harasymiak said. “He’s really physical fitting the run. He’s not going to shy away from contact.”
The Giants drafted three defensive backs to add to five youngsters brought in by GM Dave Gettleman during his first two seasons, so competition will be stiff for developmental roster spots. The irony is Slayton set the bar for all Giants’ rookie steals when he had 48 catches for 740 yards and eight touchdowns as a fifth-rounder in 2019.
Can Willamson be the defense’s version of Slayton?
“When he learns something, he is really good mentally,” Harasymiak said. “He got better and better every game once he found his role.”
Source: Read Full Article