The Buffalo Bills on Tuesday announced that third-year cornerback Aaron Williams will be switched to safety heading into the 2013 season. A former second-round pick out of Texas, Williams has already acknowledged the switch and discussed his mental state heading into an important off-season.
"I’m a corner playing safety. That’s the way I look at it," said Williams (via BuffaloBills.com). "They want me to have an advantage of covering tight ends or covering guys in the slot. I could still play corner if they put me back there. It’s a corner playing a safety."
Up until the announcement was made earlier this afternoon, the safety position had been gaining traction as a potential area to be addressed by the Bills in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft next week. The big name at the safety position in this year's class, Kenny Vaccaro, played with Williams for two years at Texas, and even assumed Williams' old jersey number (4) when Williams went pro. Thought to be a safety with the versatility to play center field, in the box and step down in man-to-man coverage on occasion, Vaccaro has drawn comparisons to Mark Barron, the No. 7 overall pick in last year's draft.
Perhaps Vaccaro should have been drawing comparisons to Williams. Though the two played different positions in the Longhorns' defensive backfield (leading to much higher tackle totals for Vaccaro throughout a four-year career; Williams only played three years), the two posted similar turnover numbers (Vaccaro had five picks and four forced fumbles to Williams' four and six, respectively) and were highly-regarded prospects. One look at their athletic numbers, taken from each player's respective Combine performance, might tell us why Williams was more highly-regarded as a safety prospect than as a corner entering the 2011 NFL Draft.
|2011||Aaron Williams||CB||Texas||5117||204||4.55||1.58||18 reps||37.5"||10'7"|
|2013||Kenny Vaccaro||S||Texas||6000||214||4.59||1.60||15 reps||38.0"||10'1"|
If the Bills are high on Vaccaro's upside as the type of versatile safety that can wear several different hats for a defense, then they should feel very comfortable about Williams' upside in that regard, as well. The only difference between the two as safety prospects is Vaccaro's huge advantage in experience at the position; Williams has a lot of catching up to do in the department. Otherwise, it's fair to consider this a wash. Heck, Vaccaro isn't even a full year younger than Williams - Vaccaro turned 22 on February 15, while Williams will turn 23 next week.