One of the major questions for the Seahawks going into 2015 is what to expect from free agent acquisition Cary Williams. Will he start? Will he fill in adequately for Byron Maxwell? Will he become a star in this system? No one knows quite how the transition will go, but the Seahawks are paying him a pretty penny and he's got big shoes to fill in the Legion of Boom.
To give you a little more information on Williams and his style of play, I talked with Dan Hatman, who agreed to provide some Williams scouting reports from his students at The Scouting Academy. Hatman, a former pro scout with the Eagles, Jets, and Giants, and now Chairman of Scouting Development at The Scouting Academy and Co-Founder at Dynamic Sport Solutions, used Williams as a teaching example because of his inconsistent play with Philly last year, which has been pretty well documented here.
Hatman's company, The Scouting Academy, is an industry-tested, 16-week online course designed to take their students through the fundamentals of evaluating football players. They learn from a team of instructors led by Hatman that includes former NFL GM Jerry Angelo, Broncos' GM Wade Phillips, and former NFL Scout and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, who collectively have nearly 300 years of NFL experience. Their focus is on increasing football acumen and developing a strong evaluation community. The Scouting Academy has a Live Classroom at the Senior Bowl in addition to the online classroom and has alumni throughout the NFL.
What Hatman provided to me was a sampling of scouting reports from his students, who at this time will remain anonymous. They provide a great wealth of information based on the extensive amount of tape they consumed, so there's some great insights in here. It's also worth noting that not everywhere agrees on Cary's strengths and weaknesses -- such is the subjective world of evaluation.
Check these out:
Scouting report I:
Best: Athletic Ability, Press Coverage, Play Strength
Worst: Ball Skills, Aggresiveness in Run Support, Inconsistent
Projection: Functional starter at DC that is best suited in either Press Man Coverage or Cover 3 Press to take advantage of his ability to mirror and use his strength and long arms to win at the LOS. Inconsistent play and lack of ball skills prevent him from maximizing abilities.
Scheme Fit: Press Man Coverage or Cover 3
8th year player who started all 16 games at right DC (defensive corner) in his second season in Bill Davis' 3-4 defensive scheme, which relied heavily upon Cover 3 and Man. Has a wiry frame with long arms and good height, displaying good athletic ability, short area burst, and solid play speed and COD (change of direction).
Does a good job at LOS by staying square and using quick, patient feet to mirror WR in Press. Has the long speed to recover if beat off LOS.
Uses good strength and long arms to get WR off balance throughout route. Solid in Man coverage when playing Press. Uses athletic ability, fluid hips, and solid balance to mirror WR and stay in good position. Solid mental processing, evidenced by ability use underneath help to gain leverage over the top in Cover 3. Shows the ability to K&D (key and diagnose; assesses the ability to read the key for run/pass and then to diagnose blocking to get in the right position) and read QB eyes when in Cover 3 shell and use short area burst to make play on ball.
Does a solid job in run support by showing awareness to fill run lanes and strength to disengage from WR and TE blocks. Solid open field tackler that has the strength to bring man down. Solid toughness evidenced by ability to attack ball carriers of all sizes and to make a big hit to send a message. Very strong, physical WR are able to get hands on him at LOS and get inside release.
Struggles when playing in Off coverage by keeping too large of a cushion, which makes mirroring WR difficult. Use of trail technique gets him in trouble on double moves. Allows separation when he has to work back to the ball downhill on deep routes because he flips his hips too early.
Mental errors cause his coverage abilities to be inconsistent. Marginal ball skills evidenced by inability to turn head when going away from LOS and make a play on the ball even when in good position. Hesitates in run support and waits for RB to come to him before engaging. Misses tackles when pad level is high and doesn't wrap up.
Overall, functional starter at DC that is best suited in either Press Man Coverage or Cover 3 Press to take advantage of his ability to mirror and use his strength and long arms to win at the LOS. Inconsistent play and lack of ball skills prevent him from maximizing abilities.
Scouting Report II:
Best: Change of Direction, Foot Speed, Man Coverage
Worst: Competitive Toughness, LOS Skills, Run Support
Projection: Long, athletic CB who is an average NFL starter based on his ability to stay with most WRs in man coverage. Is not tough and is disinterested in providing support against the run and would need to be covered up for schematically in these areas.
Scheme Fit: A Man-oriented or Cover 3 scheme that can utilize his quickness and coverage skills while minimizing the necessity for him to take on blocks near the line of scrimmage or make tackles.
Former 7th-round pick now entering his 8th NFL season who has been a starter for the last four seasons, two for Baltimore and the last two in Philadelphia. He was used predominantly used as the right CB last season. He was released by the Eagles and signed a three-year deal with Seattle.
He has good size and possesses very good athletic ability, demonstrating very good quickness and change-of-direction ability, the ability to stop and start quickly, good explosiveness out of breaks, good fluidity and loose hips. Shows the ability to mirror a WR when in press coverage, and can quickly open his hips and run when the WR releases. Has good Man coverage skills, especially when working against quick game concepts, such as hitches, slants and stops, due to his change of direction ability and his ability to quickly diagnose what route the WR is running.
Also possesses the foot speed to stay with vertical routes and to close down any separation quickly. Shows solid ball skills, typically making a play on the ball, especially when he can drive short, underneath routes, resulting in a good number of pass break-ups, and solid hands.
Shows good ability to adjust throughout the course of a game to what an opponent is attempting to do in the pass game. Vs. the run, he has the strength to bring down ball-carriers and uses the sideline to his advantage in run support. He can sort through the trash well, and is a consistent tackler in the open field. \
Shows an overall unwillingness to jam at the line of scrimmage and, in the limited number of times he does try to be disruptive near the line, misses too frequently and lacks the strength to be disruptive with a punch, and then must scramble to make up ground.
When playing Man or Zone, he struggles to process bunch sets and overlapping routes and whether he should switch coverage responsibilities or stay with his initial coverage responsibility. Struggles to stay with deeper routes with a late cut (e.g. posts or stair-step crossing routes) and gives up large cushion. Struggles to locate the ball when he has his back turned to the QB.
Shows marginal mental toughness and goes through awful stretches of play in the course of a game where he gets beat in coverage on successive plays and showing inconsistency. Vs. the run, WRs can block him easily and push him around as he shows poor competitive toughness and accepts being blocked so that he does not have to make a tackle on a ball-carrier. He also appears to lack the play strength to fight blocks, constrict lanes, and shed blockers, often losing leverage on runs and failing to set the edge. He also quits on plays before the whistle, which cost his team dearly in multiple instances.
Overall, he is a long, athletic, veteran CB who possesses good Man coverage skills, but lacks desirable toughness and run support skills. He projects as a solid starter for a primarily Man or Cover 3 team that will not ask him to make plays near the line of scrimmage.
Scouting Report III:
Best: Size/Length, lateral agility and quickness, LOS Skills, Man coverage
Worst: Manipulated in coverage, Functional strength, Angles in pursuit, run support, open field tackling
Projection: Good, rangy athlete who relies on his length and athletic ability to make plays in the passing game. He will be a liability in run support and will miss tackles in the open field which calls into question if he's suitable for the predominantly zone based scheme. Ideally, he would fit in a Press Man system in which his length and ability to mirror can be highlighted while masking his deficiencies as a tackler in run defense.
The former 7th round pick primarily plays Right Cornerback. Tall, long and lean athlete with good quickness, acceleration, change of direction and play speed to be effective in every aspect of the position. Patient feet in Press and uses his length well to Jam, Re-route and disrupt timing at the LOS.
Has a fluid back pedal and uses good lateral agility to consistently Mirror WRs in Press or Off Man coverage. Can flip his hips with ease and displays good play speed to run with receivers in Slight Trail Technique across or vertically down the field. Shows the capacity to recognize route concepts in Off Zone coverage, Plant and Drive off his land mark and uses his length well to make plays at the reception point by either disrupting or intercepting the pass.
When he does make a mistake in coverage or misses a tackle he shows the competitive nature to come back the next play and make up for it. Has shown the ability to time out the Corner Blitz, use lateral agility to avoid the chip by the RB, and bring down the QB.
At the LOS, he will get driven back by bigger WRs and will lunge on his Press to match their strength - because of this, he will get caught off balance. Larger receivers will be able to lean and push off at the top of routes to gain separation due to his adequate play strength.
Gives too much cushion in his back pedal in off zone coverage. Gets manipulated by combo routes in zone coverage especially deep crossing routes coming from the other side of the field while he is focusing on the primary WR on his side.
Won't always look back and track the ball on the back shoulder fade and will instead play the man allowing receptions down the field. Takes poor angles in pursuit, especially in the quick passing game or defending the WR screen - will come in high, without breaking down, and will try to execute a run through tackle at ill-advised times. Will shy away from contact in run support and will lose contain on the outside instead of constricting the running lane and forcing the play back inside.
In conclusion, he is a good, rangy athlete who relies on his length and athletic ability to make plays in the passing game. He will be a liability in run support and will miss tackles in the open field which calls into question if he's suitable for the predominantly zone based scheme. Ideally, he would fit in a Press Man system in which his length and ability to mirror can be highlighted while masking his deficiencies as a tackler in run defense.
Scouting Report IV:
Best: Athletic Ability, Aggressiveness, Shedding Blocks
Worst: Tackling in Space, Mental Errors
Projection: Veteran DC who relies on AA (athletic ability), physicality, and competitiveness. Good in man coverage and performs well in simple zone concepts. Good be a starter on a team that will use him in specific ways.
7th year DC from a D-II school who aligns primarily on the right side. Displays good length with solid speed and smooth hips. Able to play balanced and shows good explosiveness and acceleration. Plays like he has a chip on his shoulder and is very aggressive in contact with opponent. A competitor who finishes on most plays and has the mental toughness to bounce back after a blown assignment.
Shows good strength for a DB and is able to consistently shed blocks and gain leverage on the ballcarrier. Able to seal the edge and uses good technique along with his size and strength to rip through a block. Is very physical at the LOS and uses arms to knock WR off route while using quick feet to stay parallel to the LOS. Show excellent ability in mirroring receivers in confined spaces and keeps hips open for quick COD. Is able to stay over top of a receiver in zone and has a quick and smooth zone turn. Shows great ball tracking and hand-eye coordination in zone coverage and has soft hands to come up with INTs.
Allows big physical WRs to release inside in press coverage and doesn't have the burst to recover in time to make a play on the ball. Can get a little high in his BP, slowing his transition to break on a route. Uses trail technique rather than recognizing routes and will bite on double moves. Labors to keep up with faster WRs on vertical routes. Has difficulty with locating the ball in Man while he has his back to the QB and doesn't get his head around.
Is slow to react to complex formations and can struggle in picking up the right man in bunch formations. Will miss his assignment in zone coverage, failing to release WR inside to pick up a back/TE in the flat. Takes poor angles to the ballcarrier and is easily fooled in space. Displays poor technique in preparation of a tackle as he fails to chop his feet and gets out of position.
Overall, a DB who can be a starter in simple schemes where he can use his AA and toughness to beat WR rather than having to make proper reads in a complex zone scheme. His leadership and competitiveness will find him a place on a team but his reliance on AA is concerning for an aging player in the long-term.
Scouting Report V:
Best: Length, Man Coverage, Aggressiveness, Confidence
Worst: Tackling, Backpedal, Zone Coverage
Projection: DC who is best used in a man scheme where he can use his length and aggressiveness to disrupt WRs at the LOS. Can be a starting caliber DC for 2-4 more years until his speed and reactions slow down considerably.
7th year DC with no major injuries that primarily starts at RCB. Has good length on a lean frame with long arms. Still has decent speed with long strides and uses his instincts and quick reflexes to make up for average explosiveness. Has good back bend at the LOS and change of direction with flexible hips and the ability to open them in either direction when the WR commits.
Plays with an attitude and aggressiveness that translates to a physicality and a competitive toughness where he is not afraid to go up against any WR. Doesn't let a bad play affect his confidence. Is best used when lining up at the LOS in Man coverage where he can use his length to disrupt the WR's routes before the WR gets started. Mirrors the WR well for the first 5-10 yards and stays close to his man through the first move. Uses his long strides to stay with WRs on deep routes.
When facing the ball, does a good job to make a play on the ball at the point of contact, which results in frequent PBUs. When the ball carrier is in his immediate area, does a good job of using his length to fight off and shed WR blocks.
Despite his physicality, he is not a physical tackler as he lunges and doesn't fully wrap up the ball carrier and drive them backwards. Plays younger than his experience in terms of mental errors and makes decisions that a veteran DC shouldn't make like not looking back for the ball when covering deep routes, leading to easy penalties down the field and running into the WR.
Guesses on routes and finds himself in trouble without the deep speed to recover from mistakes or double moves. Is worse when playing Man coverage from an off position, or in Zone coverage, as he doesn't possess the acceleration and explosiveness to make up for wrong steps. Stays too high in his backpedal which leads to a slower backpedal than he should have with his agility.
Overall, is a starting caliber DC that will be exposed by #1 WRs that are fast, physical and accelerate out of their cuts. Therefore he should be regarded ideally as a good #2 DC moving forward as he begins to wear down physically and lose his speed.
There you have it. Thoughts?