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Transition Time For Brandon Williams

College coach was also the mentor for Peterson, Mathieu

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Cardinals cornerback Brandon Williams (26) works in coverage during Friday's minicamp practice.


Eight months or so have passed since former running back Brandon Williams dove full-time into making his football life about being a cornerback.

Now, he's in the NFL.

"The way I look at things, you have no reason to be nervous if you put the work in," said Williams, the Cardinals' third-round draft pick who is taking part in the team's rookie minicamp this weekend.

"But I am anxious and curious to what is going to happen."

So too are the Cardinals, who spent that high pick believing Williams will someday emerge as the top-flight

defensive back his raw tools seem to suggest. It didn't hurt that Williams had the backing of his college defensive coordinator, Texas A&M's John Chavis, who was at LSU at the same time as the Cards' top two defensive backs: Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson.

To Mathieu and Peterson, an endorsement from Chavis goes a long way in creating the confidence in Williams' future.

"Coach Chavis has been around college football forever and has seen so many guys go to the next level and succeed," Peterson said. "Coach Chavis saying I know if this guy gets to the next level he can do great things even though he's only played the position for a few months, I think that's definitely the stamp of approval. We drafted him pretty high, so obviously we took his word."

Williams, who began his college career at Oklahoma as a five-star recruit at running back before transferring to A&M to be closer to his daughter, wasn't on a path to be drafted as a running back. The position move before his senior season wasn't about getting to the NFL, however.

It was a side benefit to be sure, but mostly, Williams just wanted to start. Chavis said Williams had a chance to do

that at cornerback.

Chavis wasn't available for comment, but he said in a statement provided by Texas A&M that "Brandon is the type of player who wants to do whatever he can to help the team."

"Not only did he switch from running back to defensive back, but he was on most every special teams unit and usually one of the gunners," Chavis added. "He has great character and a great work ethic which allows him to get better. He has a great skill set as a defensive back and I look for him to get better and better as a defensive back."

Chavis oversaw former LSU Morris Claiborne's transition to defensive back after Claiborne played quarterback in high school. Claiborne had an entire college career to make the transition to defensive back, and was eventually the No. 6 overall pick.

Williams isn't there yet. He smiled and said he was "waaaay better" at cornerback than he was at the outset of the season. He knows he is far from a finished product.

"One of the things I embrace is the process," Williams said. "You've got to have patience."

His support system will be strong. Not only are Peterson and Mathieu in place, but also former Oklahoma teammate Tony Jefferson.

"He was a hard worker. I remember that," Jefferson said. "He's got the athletic ability. He's got the tools and all that. He's just got to learn the technique and stuff. Special teams-wise, I know he's a warrior at that, and he's a warrior in the weight room."

Mathieu said Chavis coaches much like Bruce Arians, and his defensive back disciples are usually a little more prepared for NFL life than many college products.

Still, "It's going to be tough," Mathieu said. "It's going to be a hard transition on this level, just because of everything that goes along with it. It's an offensive league, a lot of things that go into preparing that you don't necessarily have to do in college.

"He's got a great group of guys in the locker room, some great coaches, and hopefully he'll be all right."

The Cardinals take the field for rookie minicamp



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