Joshua Williams Has A Lot To Gain At NFL Combine

Photo: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Fayetteville State cornerback Joshua Williams is a guy that’s been slept on for almost all of his college career. That lack of national recognition can mostly be chalked up to the fact that he played at the Division-II level at an HBCU, but he’s a monster athlete. The strong performance he’ll almost certainly have at the NFL Scouting Combine will have his draft stock shooting upward after this weekend.

What makes Williams an especially talented athlete is his speed, some of which he has because of his background in running track. Williams’ father was his track coach growing up, and the Fayetteville State product said he’s been running track since around the same time he started playing football. Williams was a track star in high school, where he ran the 100m and 200m dash as well as the 110m hurdles and long jump.

Unsurprisingly, that track experience meant that once the defensive back was on the football field, he stood out for his strong change-in-direction ability and quick transitions. That speed allowed Williams to not only lock down receivers in man coverage but also be a strong run defender with a willingness and ability to play aggressively running downhill.

Ahead of his field workouts at the combine, Williams said his goal for the 40-yard dash was around 4.3 seconds. With his track background and the speed at which he played the game, that goal seems well within his abilities.

“I’m just going to go out there, run my fastest, and hopefully God takes care of the rest,” he said.

While Williams’ athleticism isn’t something that can be questioned, the level of competition he faced in college is something that might cast doubts on how he’ll perform at the next level. As a participant in this year’s Senior Bowl, Williams quelled some of those concerns. He was the only Division-II player to get an invite to Mobile, and his performance there made it apparent that he could keep up with the best.

“Going against a lot of the best receivers in the nation, doing my thing out there, I feel like it definitely boosted me up a little bit and put more teams on watch,” he said.

From what Williams has gathered so far, it seems like his Senior Bowl performance was a step in the right direction.

“A lot of the questions, at least this week, have been a lot different than they were at the Senior Bowl, and I’m glad. It’s showing me I did something right and put a lot of people on notice,” he said. “Of course there’s things I could improve upon but glad that I had the week that I did at the Senior Bowl.”

With questions answered about the level of competition Williams faced at Fayetteville State, all that’s left is to put on a show in combine testing on Sunday. Given his excellent athleticism, that won’t be an issue.

In a class full of talent in the secondary, Williams won’t be off the board early, but he will get drafted, especially with his stock only continuing to rise after the Combine. When he does hear his name called, he’ll be the first player from an HBCU drafted in two years and the first Fayetteville State Bronco drafted since 1976.

“It would be a blessing,” Williams said. “Not only [setting up] the future players back at Fayetteville State, but even other players in the conference, other players in D-II and even other players in HBCU football. I feel like that’s important—putting the people and the players behind me in a better position.”

Written By:

Jack McKessy

Staff Writer

Jack McKessy is a recent graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism who grew up in Washington, D.C. As a student, he covered Northwestern’s football, women’s soccer, women’s basketball, and baseball teams. Previously, he was in charge of social media and contributed to both written and multimedia content creation for La Vida Baseball in Chicago. He has also assisted in the production of promotional content for the Big Ten Network. Jack initially joined the TDN team as an intern during the 2020 season. Now, he writes columns—primarily analysis of the New York Giants—and helps run TDN's YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.