RSP NFL Lens WR Chad Williams (Cardinals): Footwork Through Contact

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens showcases the small strides that Arizona wide receiver Chad Williams uses to maximize his balance and power through a wrap in the open field after a reception.

I’m a fan of Cardinals receiver Chad Williams. He’s an athletic pass catcher at the target-point whose work at Grambling impressed me. At the 2017 Senior Bowl practices, Williams held his own with top cornerback prospects and demonstrated route skills that were trending in the right direction.

After a year working alongside Larry Fitzgerald and an offseason working on route running with Chad Johnson, Williams has earned one of the starting jobs in Arizona. It remains to be seen whether he’ll break out this year, but we’re going to see a lot more of him on the field.

One of the things I’ve always liked about Williams is his ball-carrying. He has a top speed that times in the mid-4.3’s but he’s a rugged player who can run through wraps. This gain on a short out route against the Saints is a good example of how it’s done.

Short, precise stride length is such an important key to good ball-carrying, which is the opposite of what you’re often seeking when accelerating. It’s why you can often see the difference between a great athlete and a refined football player at a skill position like wide receiver and running back. A refined football player understands precision of footwork and knows how to adjust to the situation.

Note how Williams keeps his feet moving in succession as he’s turning through the contact and then drives downfield with his right leg after raising that knee high. This is the outcome of drilling on footwork to move with the feet under the shoulders to maintain balance while also sustaining momentum as he changes direction to a point where he can then begin acceleration.

Younger players with raw athletic ability try to do all of this with longer strides that often exceed shoulder width and while the moves are flashy, they lack control and the player loses his balance. Williams is controlled throughout this movement.

While Larry Fitzgerald will remain the focal point and Christian Kirk has a chance to become the future high-volume reception leader in Arizona, don’t ignore Williams’ ascent.

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