Scouting Notebook: Is James Williams poised to be the face of Miami's defense?

The Scouting Notebook returns for 2022 and we will take a look at a range of prospects, position battles and much more prior to the upcoming college football season. It’s good to be back!

New Look Miami Could Have A Star At Safety

Photo credit:

One of my favourite pieces of this week was Bruce Feldman and Manny Navarro’s deep dive into Mario Cristobal’s rebuild in Miami. It got me thinking about one of my favourite freshmen from last year, safety James Williams. 

The five-star recruit out of Florida is hard to ignore. At 6’5, 224lbs he already has the size to compete with experienced college players. As to be expected his first year had its up and downs and his PFF grades reflect that. 

Williams was impressive in the deep safety role with a grade of 78.1 in coverage. He also took over 104 snaps in the box and that versatility could be the reason why he becomes the focal point of the defense. Even next to the more experienced Bubba Bolden, Williams can often be seen directing traffic and marshalling the defense pre-snap. 

Certainly, his size and length will have teams questioning whether he can stick long-term in the secondary or if he will be more suited to adding weight and moving to linebacker. On tape, Williams flashes in that role. See below, where his athleticism and wrap-up tackling stops the running back in his tracks.

Of course, there are areas of improvement needed for the young defender. With a missed tackle rate of 23.3%, he will need to tighten that aspect up next year. His slender frame certainly affects that and he has been used sparingly as a pass rusher, often only getting success when left unblocked.

Williams won’t be draft-eligible until 2024 but with big changes expected in the Swamp he will be one of many young secondary pieces worth keeping a close eye on.

Does Size Matter? Bryce Young Could Be The Acid Test

Photo credit:

Breaking down the 2023 draft class has begun in earnest and the top two quarterbacks have come under the microscope intensely. Both CJ Stroud and Bryce Young have flashed the ability you would expect from potential round 1 draft picks, however, Stroud currently has the edge for me due to one key factor. 

Bryce Young’s listed height on Alabama’s website is 6’0, and that seems generous. Schools’ official measurements usually air on the generous side, to say the least. Even though NFL teams are coming around to the idea that undersized signal-callers can thrive in the NFL, they may be more reserved on Young.

Coupled with his lack of height, Young is a lean 194lbs, he simply doesn’t have the physical build of either Russell Wilson or Kyler Murray, who are much thicker. Young’s propensity to try and navigate the pocket and make plays as opposed to constantly taking off could lead to more hits and durability concerns.

Purely on play style, there is not much between Stroud and Young for me, however, the size factor is enough to give me pause for thought. For now, I have Stroud as top-10 prospect, someone with the potential to be an elite starter, while Young has a mid to late first-round grade. The battle between the two looks set to be a blockbuster.

Secondary Prospects Generating Buzz But Still Have Work To Do

Photo credit:

It was a defensive backfield kind of week for me and two more secondary players came under the microscope. Both Jordan Battle and Kelee Ringo played in the National Championship game for their respective SEC powerhouses and return to hopefully solidify themselves as first-round picks.

Alabama’s Battle is an excellent athlete, a smooth mover who is excellent in coverage. He graded out at 89.7 vs the pass in 2021, logging four pass breakups and 3 interceptions. 

For me, the biggest drawback was a lack of punch in the tackle. Battle wasn’t an impact tackler, on occasion failing to wrap-up and allowing extra yardage to receivers. While partner DeMarcco Hellams is more likely to bring the boom, it would be nice to see Battle add a more physical edge.

Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo is many people’s consensus number one corner at this point of the cycle and it’s clear to see why. He has excellent length, measuring 6’2 with long arms. He has a thick frame that makes him a solid open-field tackler.

His play speed looks solid enough but at times he looked slow to flip his hips. That is likely to be down to his bulk. A couple of times vs South Carolina he was turned easily and beat over the top, only errant throws saving him from big plays. 

He negates that to some degree in press coverage where he can bully the receiver and get hands-on them to buy time. Ringo’s physical traits will garner plenty of attention but he still has some areas to work on to fully cement himself in Day 1 talk. 

Mock Draft

Rory-Joe Daniels

Cfb contributor

formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at