Now in his third season in the league, cornerback Joejuan Williams faces a golden opportunity to finally prove he was worth the second-round draft pick the New England Patriots invested in him back in 2019. The Patriots, after all, will have to move forward without injured starting slot cornerback Jonathan Jones.
Williams is no traditional slot defender in the mold of Jones, but the injury in combination with Stephon Gilmore getting traded to Carolina has opened the door for more playing time as a top-four cornerback on the current roster. And in his first opportunity filling that role, the 23-year-old excelled — so much so that Pro Football Focus named him to its Team of Week 7.
Playing 34 defensive snaps, Williams earned a grade of 87.6. While the PFF grading system is not the be-all and end-all of football analysis, the numbers behind that grade show how productive Williams was against the New York Jets on Sunday: despite being targeted five times he gave up only one reception for eight yards; he also broke up three passes.
With Jones out for the rest of the season and Gilmore no longer available, the Patriots will need depth players such as Williams to rise to the occasion. At least in Week 7, Williams did just that.