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2021 NFL Draft: Introducing Rodarius Williams, the most improved cornerback in the nation

NCAA Football: Texas at Oklahoma State Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams are always on the hunt for prospects who have yet to hit their ceiling. Determining which players have an arrow that is pointing up plays a big role in the scouting process.

That being the case, all 32 NFL franchises should have their collective eyes fixed on Oklahoma State’s Rodarius Williams. The younger brother of NFL cornerback Greedy Williams, few prospects have improved their draft stock in 2020 the way Williams has.

Williams recently spoke exclusively with MCM about what lead to his improvement this season, the upcoming Senior Bowl, and how playing alongside Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard helped make him the man he is today.

JM: What are some areas of your game that you were hoping to showcase throughout the 2020 college football season?

RW: I wanted to show that I could play a bit more bump and run coverage than I had in the past. I wanted to play a lot more man coverage this year. A lot of people think we just play zone coverage at Oklahoma State. I just wanted to showcase my ability to play man coverage more than anything.

JM: Jim Nagy, the Director of the Senior Bowl has been giving you a lot of praise as of late. You recently accepted an invitation to play in the 2021 Senior Bowl. Congratulations on that. What does it mean to you?

RW: Thank you. I appreciate all the love he’s been showing me. At the same time, I can’t let that stuff go to my head. I have to continue to show up every week and practice hard every day. I’m always preparing for the next game.

As for the invitation, I was blessed to receive that. Any chance I get to showcase my talent, I’m going to take that opportunity and run with it. I want everybody in the nation to know I’m a great corner. I’m gonna show up with the intent to show them that they made a good decision when they offered me an invitation.

JM: At one point this season, you had already forced as many incompletions (9) on 21 targets as you did on 72 targets last year. This is per Pro Football Focus. What lead to such drastic improvement in this area?

RW: I’m playing with more confidence now than ever before. I can truly say that I believe in myself, I believe in my abilities. I love to train. I thoroughly enjoy studying film. I just feel like everything is starting to come together for me. At the end of the day, all of the work that I’ve put in is starting to show itself.

JM: What do you enjoy about playing the cornerback position?

RW: It’s a true one-on-one situation. It’s a real challenge in the open field. It’s me against you. There’s no where to hide. You can’t run from it. There’s a massive challenge in front of you on a snap-by-snap basis. All eyes are on you. At the end of the day, I love to compete. That goes for everybody on our defense. You can’t play this position if you don’t love to compete. We all feel that way.

JM: How do you approach a smaller, shiftier receiver differently than you do a bigger, more physical one?

RW: I’ll play things a little slower with those bigger receivers. I’ll react more to his movements than anything else. I’m more physical with them. With those faster guys, I try to predict where they’re going a little bit. Fast guys make fast moves and I have to be ready for that. You can get yourself in trouble with a fast receiver.

JM: What are three traits a successful cornerback must possess?

RW: Confidence is first and foremost. Technique comes to mind as well. You have to have great technique as a cornerback. If you get lazy with your technique, you can give up a big play at any given moment. Thirdly, you have to be dialed in mentally. You have to stay in the film room and study your opponents. You have to respond well to coaching. You also need to have a short term memory.

JM: Who would you say is the best receiver you’ve ever had to cover?

RW: You’re probably gonna think I’m just hyping up a teammate, but Tylan Wallace is the correct answer. He’s such a well-rounded receiver. He’s a big reason why my game has taken such a huge step forward this season. I’ve really been studying his game. He helps me prepare. He’s a complete player. He’s an incredible route runner. He’s not afraid to make a big play on the ball. He really helped me become the corner that I am today.

JM: Between him and running back Chuba Hubbard, you guys have some serious weapons on offense. You get to see both of those guys in practice every single day.

RW: Seeing the work that both of those guys put in on a daily basis helps motivate me. They motivated me to become a better player. I’m a harder worker because of those guys. The media doesn’t see how much work those guys put in outside of practice. They do so much extra work.

Both of those guys have been role models for me. They don’t take any days off. I have so much love for those guys. I owe them a huge thank you just for being who they are. It’s been a blessing to share a field with both of them.

We have a lot of fun with it. We’re all very competitive. I’ll tell Tylan before a practice that he’s not gonna make any catches today (laughs). We try to challenge each other with fun little games within the game. We all have a competitive edge.

JM: I love that. Which NFL corners do you enjoy watching tape on?

RW: I’ve been watching a lot of Charles Woodson. I try to watch some stuff on him before every game. I pay close attention to his technique. He has this amazing series on YouTube. He talks about the things that helped him prepare for a game.

I watch those videos and I take it to heart. I really study them. Each wide receiver represents a different challenge. No two wide receivers are the same. I need to understand what I’m doing with each receiver in order for me to play an effective game.

JM: That’s amazing. I love that. After the Senior Bowl, the next big event in your draft story will be the NFL Scouting Combine. Are you looking forward to any drills in particular?

RW: I’m looking forward to the 40-yard dash. For some reason, a lot of people are predicting that I’m gonna run a 4.5 or 4.6. I don’t know why that is. It’s just another opportunity for me to prove people wrong. I’m excited to run it and prove people wrong.

JM: A lot of people don’t have a fond opinion of the Big 12, especially when it comes to defenses. Do you have an opinion on that?

RW: That helped out my game a lot. I’ve heard that before. A lot of people say the Big 12 can’t play defense. Turn the film on. We’re really playing man coverage here at Oklahoma State. Every offense in this conference can beat you in multiple ways. There’s a lot of speed in this conference. We as a defense have to be prepared for everything. I encourage everybody to turn the film on and pay attention to our coverage situations. We’re playing defense here.

JM: I love that. This has been great. Thanks for your time today, Rodarius. In closing, what’s up next for you?

RW: The only thing on my mind right now is the next game. I’m taking things one week at a time. Oklahoma is up next. It’s about time we knock these guys off the map. We’re about to show them that this defense is for real. Our cornerbacks are for real. I’m for real. We’re gonna show up and compete.