Davis had an all-around very strong year in 2017. The caveat was that, at 29 years old and never having had a season that good before, Davis replicating that kind of season was a tough bet. So, for a slightly smaller price, the Jets turned around and signed a player 3 years younger who possesses a very similar profile and performed at a similarly effective rate in 2017.
It’s a smart move! However, I think it needs to be understood that the Jets are still taking a pretty big gamble on Williamson. Davis, despite his pass coverage liabilities, played 99.8% of the Jets’ 2017 snaps. As John B highlighted in a previous article, the Jets expertly covered his coverage deficiencies while keeping him on the field full-time. The Titans hid Williamson’s coverage deficiencies in a different way; by completely removing him from the field on third downs. While he did play 83%, 87%, and 71% in his prvious three seasons, respectively, Williamson played only 60% of the Titans’ defensive snaps in his career year of 2017, leaving the field in passing situations. While I noticed plenty of potential on film for Williamson to not only match Davis, but become even better as an all-around player, that’s still just projection. We’ll have to see if the Jets were right to bet on Williamson comfortably shifting into a bigger role.
With that, here are some Avery Williamson clips for you to enjoy! (#54)
Williamson is known to be poor in coverage, and there’s obviously some truth to that or else he wouldn’t be playing only 3/5 of his team’s snaps. However, I came away with a far less negative perception of his coverage talents than others seem to have. I noticed plenty of promise from him in that area. Here is one example.
Williamson’s bread and butter is going sideline to sideline and making plays on the ball carrier. Here he clashes with his now-teammate, Isaiah Crowell. I hope he can rub off plays like this on to Darron Lee.
This time Williamson displays the ability to go upfield and stop Crowell for a major loss. He has really good play speed and takes solid routes to the football.
More coverage potential shown from Williamson. He sticks with Chris Hogan on this crossing route and then isn’t fooled when Hogan improvises the route. He’s all over this play and gives Hogan no chance of making the catch.
His measurables do suggest that he possesses the short-area quickness and speed necessary to be capable in coverage.
Not a coverage snap, but Williamson showcasing big time pass game value here. Shows off that speed and runs an absolutely perfect route to make a clean open field stop on one of the NFL’s most elusive and best receiving backs. Not fooled by the misdirection on the play.
Let’s move on to a few poor plays I caught. Here you can see Williamson’s coverage struggles showing up. He mans up on Jack Doyle here, and Doyle makes Williamson look foolish. Credit to Doyle here, this is a really great route. However, Williamson more than makes up for it with the hustle to not only get back and make the tackle, but force a fumble that Tennessee recovers.
While I think for the most part Williamson does a good job staying disciplined with his gaps going downhill, I do think his downhill run defense can improve to catch up with his east-west game. Here’s an example, where Williamson leaves a gap open that allows a big play. Credit to Colts running back Marlon Mack here as well for a really nice cutback.
Here’s another mistake in run defense. Raiders center Rodney Hudson (a very good player) gets to the second level and seals off Williamson quickly. He still had an outside shot of slowing down or stopping this run, but guesses wrong as Marshawn Lynch makes a nice cut.
Williamson struggled early on in this season opener against Marshawn Lynch and the Raiders. This tackle attempt.... ouch. Skittles was looking young and fresh to kick this season off.
I really like that as this game went on, Williamson rebounded from a rough start and found himself getting more involved in helping to quiet the Oakland run game. Here you see much better gap pursuit and a strong tackle on Lynch. I think he is still above-average in this area, but there’s room for more consistency.
Let’s finish with a splash play. Williamson wasn’t used as a blitzer terribly often, but his speed combined with his knack for taking efficient routes showed up when he did get the opportunities to rush the passer.
Overall I like the potential I see in Williamson. There’s a lot of projection here, as Williamson definitely still needs to prove he can be effective in an every-down role. He needs to show he can be effective in coverage on any down, which I believe he can do, but we’ll just have to wait and see. He is a solid run defender with very good sideline to sideline ability while showing some pass rushing promise. I’m cautiously optimistic about what Williamson can do as a core of this defense. He could fulfill the coverage potential I saw and sharpen his downhill game to become a superstar, or he could be a pre-2017 Demario Davis.
What will Avery Williamson’s Jets career be like?
This poll is closed
Develop into consistent all-around force
Like 2017 Demario Davis: strong body of work but not without a few gaping holes
Erratic: Very high highs but some low lows that mostly average out.
Steady, average play that doesn’t stand out either way
Lots of snaps of below average performance
The signing will be a major bust