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Tramon Williams: A veteran cornerback’s impact on the Arizona Cardinals

January 15, 2018

The signing of Tramon Williams didn’t make any headlines, but the cornerback vastly improved the Arizona Cardinals’ defense

Take a stab at who you think was Pro Football Focus’ highest-ranked Arizona Cardinal for 2017. Players such as Chandler Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson or even rookie Budda Baker would be good guesses. All four played at a high level this past season, as evidenced by their being voted to the Pro Bowl.

However, the Card who got the highest rating from the popular website was cornerback Tramon Williams. The veteran was signed last summer, just after the opening of training camp. The acquisition wasn’t highly-publicized, but would turn out to be of utmost importance to Arizona’s defense.

With camp underway, Steve Keim realized that he may have made a boo-boo. After basically ignoring the cornerback position during free agency and the draft, the general manager of the Cardinals addressed the problem. Faced with having Justin Bethel entrenched as the starter opposite Patrick Peterson, Keim elected to add some insurance for the erratic cover guy.

Now that the draft was in the rearview window, attention was turned to the remaining free agents. After flirting with another experienced corner, Brandon Flowers, Keim decided to hand Williams a one-year deal. The 6’0″, 192 pounder had spent the last two campaigns suffering as a member of the Cleveland Browns, so signing with the Cards offered him a chance at something better.

It was apparent early on in the season that Keim was smart to obtain a backup plan for the overmatched Bethel. The three-time special teams Pro Bowler quickly showed that he wasn’t going to hold up at the number-two corner spot. Though torched regularly, Bethel somehow remained the starter for six games before the coaching staff finally turned to Williams.

The change had a wonderful effect on the Arizona defensive unit. One must wonder how much the insertion of Williams into the starting lineup contributed to Jones tallying his NFL-leading 17 quarterback sacks. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher could even employ more blitz packages knowing that the more-reliable 34-year old was locking down the post.

Williams’ statistics this past year are an indication of the impact he had. In 13 contests, nine starts, the long-time Green Bay Packer amassed an impressive 12 pass breakups and two interceptions. Williams also proved he could play physical by registering 41 total tackles.

Unfortunately, one of the club’s best free agent signings of ’17 will hit the market once again in March. Though Williams will turn 35-years old this year, it would behoove Keim to attempt to return him to the nest. The Cardinals’ defense will be that much better for it if he does.

Via: raisingzona.com

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