Sport STAY or GO? CB Greedy Williams
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After the last two years, cornerback Greedy Williams still has not played a full season. That is not just a concern, but a huge concern.
He was brought in to become the other outside corner opposite Denzel Ward. Some draft experts had Greedy rated in the Top-15 while most had him going in the middle 20’s, but still in Round 1. So when Cleveland snared him in the second-round, it was celebration all around.
Now the only one celebrating is Greedy when he cashes his bi-weekly checks.
Cleveland GM Andrew Berry did his homework and accessed that the cornerback and safety positions were in dire need of help for the upcoming 2021 season. Along with Ward, the other holdover from the 2020 season is M.J. Stewart.
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First, A.J. Green was signed to the reserve/futures list. Then Robert Jackson was waived and subsequently re-signed. Five days into the free agency period, Troy Hill was inked from the Los Angeles Rams and it’s been assumed he would become the slot defender. On April 23, the club exercised the 5th-year option on Ward.
Next up was the NFL draft. With the 26th pick in the first-round, Greg Newsome II out of Northwestern was taken. Upon completion of the draft, two undrafted free agent corners were signed: Emmaneul Rugamba (Miami of Ohio) and Kiondre Thomas (Kansas State). Rugamba earned Third Team All-MAC honors in 2020 and 2019 and was born in a refugee camp. Thomas was in the Big 10 for three seasons with Minnesota before transferring to KState.
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You can never have enough cornerbacks.
So, the Browns have corners. And since DC Joe Woods plays a lot of 4-2-5, a large assortment of cornerbacks are necessary. In the standard 4-3, a club may keep five or six CB’s, but with five defensive backs on the field for most of the defensive snaps, could you see the team keeping seven - or even eight?
But what about Greedy? Can he remain healthy? Are the Browns in a position to wait on him to develop and not become an annual IR list member? Are they tired of paying him to not play? After all, Greedy was brought into the fold by the former regime, not this one.
The defensive back room of the Browns is now bulging with players. Something has got to give, and somebody has got to go. This group currently has nine cornerbacks on the 90-man roster and eight safeties.
One of the questions from the DBN writers for this year’s training camp: what will happen to Greedy Williams now that the franchise has invested a first-round pick on Greg Newsome? Greedy was taken in the second-round of the 2019 NFL draft and just hasn’t developed into that starting outside cornerback he was drafted for.
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CB Greedy Williams: Stay or Go?
The Browns continue to say all the right things about Greedy Williams returning to the field this fall after missing the entire 2020 season with damage to the axillary nerve in one of his shoulders. That is all well and good, but this is a strange type of injury, one that apparently is not fixable via surgery and can take up to a year to recover from for a player.
Williams had a rocky rookie season in 2019, missing four games with a hamstring injury and not playing consistently all that well in the 12 games he was on the field. Still, there is little reason for the Browns to give up on him.
If his shoulder continues to respond to treatment, then Williams should be ready to go in training camp. The Browns signed Troy Hill in free agency and selected Greg Newsome II in the first-round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but Hill is better suited to play in the slot; and as talented as Newsome is, it is not always a good idea to count on a rookie cornerback to make it through the season without some struggles.
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Rather, the additions of Hill and Newsome make it so the Browns are not left in a bind if Williams’ injury flares up again. If he is healthy enough to play, and Williams can get back to the form that made him a second-round selection in 2019, then the Browns are suddenly looking very solid at the cornerback position opposite Denzel Ward (who is no lock to play all 17 games himself this season).
Stay or Go? STAY
This one may not be a slam dunk. Greedy hasn’t played a lot of games despite being drafted in the second-round. And when he did play, his coverage skills were only sub-par while his tackling was a roller coaster.
GM Andrew Berry signed Troy Hill in free agency then drafted Greg Newsome in the first-round this year. What does that say to Cleveland fans about Berry’s assertion that Greedy will ever become a viable option as a starting cornerback in the NFL?
The Browns cannot let Greedy go – I get that. However, this is his contract year. The coaches must see something in him that will allow them to re-sign him to a second contract or trade him or allow him to seek employment somewhere else. I see a very short leash for him this year.
Stay or Go? STAY
Greedy is a stay as long as he is even remotely medically-cleared. This is a guy who was a possible Top-10 selection heading into his final college season. Obviously you can’t help the team from the injured list so it’s a concern; but with drafting Greg Newsome and the signings in free agency Greedy isn’t going to be rushed back. The Browns can take their time with him and make sure he is good to go.
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I don’t see a way in which Greedy isn’t still a part of the long-term plans for the Browns. Now if this season is filled with injuries and up-and-down play, I may have a different answer next off-season. But for now, the upside and the positives of Greedy being a Brown far outweighs letting him go. Williams is a easy stay for me.
Stay or Go? STAY
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As DC Joe Woods has said when asked, give me as many DBs as you can. Greedy is a long outside corner at 6’2”, 185 pounds that can hang with most second-tier receivers and showed promise, albeit progressive throughout his rookie season. He allowed an 85% QB rating with a 61.3% completion rate and was rated 54.6 on his PFF overall grade in 2019. That’s average to above average considering he was a rookie. If Greedy’s health is no longer an issue, his size and improved tackling will be an asset along side of Denzel Ward, the Browns don’t want to give up that upside.
While Troy Hill was brought in, his demonstrated statistics show his ability is to operate better in the slot rather than an outside guy so I don’t see that as a replacement for Williams. That may change if Williams doesn’t live up to the draft hype, but not an ideal solution. The defense in the secondary has been bolstered, some say stabilized, by picking up Newsome in the draft. He is projected to be an all-around playmaker who will likely fit as a do it all hybrid much like Delpit upon his return – neither of which are dedicated outside coverage players but rather multi-faceted tools
With Ward and Greedy Williams manning the corners and the expected play of Delpit and Newsome wreaking havoc all over the field – or picking up those outside receivers on CB blitzes, not to mention Troy Hill manning the slot, this defense will be a spectacle to watch this season. I’m looking forward to see how our coaching staff can utilize all these new tools to confuse opposing quarterback reads and see if this results in more turnovers and 3rd and longs.
Stay or Go? STAY
Browns CB Greedy Williams participating in OTAs .
Greedy Williams is on the comeback trail. After missing the entire 2020 season, the Browns cornerback has been participating in organized team activities.“It’s a great feeling,’’ Williams said. “Just being reunited with the team, going through the drills with them and things like that, it gives you the happiest moments.