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Cory's Corner: I Was Wrong About Tramon Williams

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Cory's Corner: I Was Wrong About Tramon Williams

I was initially unimpressed with the Packers bringing back Tramon Williams.

He just turned 35 in March and will be entering his 12thNFL season this fall and I didn’t think Williams would be able to provide enough juice for a secondary that desperately needed help. 

Then the NFL Draft came and new general manager Brian Gutekunst opted to go with two straight impact cornerbacks and all of a sudden, bringing in Williams looks like a genius move. 

“I said it walking off the field today, the biggest difference on the back end is 38,” Aaron Rodgers said earlier this month. “When he showed back up here, he is as of right now, in my humble opinion, the best on that side of the ball, and you want your best players to be the best guys in the locker room, and there’s nobody better than Tramon.”

That’s high praise and Rodgers is right. Williams may not win the defensive MVP, but he is that unit’s Most Important Player. It’s his job to obviously play at a high level for as long as he can, but maybe more importantly, he will be called upon to cultivate a winning tradition from the secondary. 

Williams was ranked as the No. 14 corner last year according to Pro Football Focus. That’s higher than Aqib Talib and Xavier Rhodes. 

“He’s still really quick,” said Packers defensive passing-game coordinator Joe Whitt. “He’s got his hands on a number of balls. I’ve been really pleased with the way he’s played.”

Can Williams live up that level this year? I’m not sure. In order for that to happen, he’s going to need help from the front seven. Can that group get a consistent push or will Williams feel like he’s on an island because opposing quarterbacks won’t be taken off their spot? 

Most importantly, the Packers need Williams to get sophomore corner Kevin King up to speed, comfortable and confident about being the other starting corner. 

Williams doesn’t know how long he will play or better yet, he doesn’t know long he will be able to play. If Williams trots out as the opening day starter, he will be the oldest starting corner in the league. That’s a lot to say because the rules don’t favor the defense, and the rules really don’t favor defensive backs. There’s something to be said about a guy that has been able to play that long at a position that is nearly impossible to perfect. 

While everyone talks about Kenny Clark, Muhammed Wilkerson, Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, it’s Williams that is more important than those four. And the reason is because Williams cannot just impact this season, he can impact two seasons from now. If he can successfully plant a competitive seed with King, Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, the Packers won’t have to worry about the secondary for quite some time. 

Williams was a good addition because he is still good enough to cause problems in the passing game and he knows what it means to work hard and resurrect a career from the practice squad as an undrafted player. Nobody gave Williams a chance — including myself when he signed with the Packers on March 23. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

We will know that bringing in Williams was an excellent move in a couple years by how much the current crop of corners heed his words.  

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (43) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Cory Jennerjohn's picture

You’re right, it’s never fun to admit. However, this was necessary because I really think he’s going to play an integral role — both on and off the field.

dobber's picture

One of your better pieces, Cory. Thanks!

Cory Jennerjohn's picture

Thanks Dobber. Have a great weekend.

croatpackfan's picture

I know that means nothing, but I was also against that signing. And I was wrong, too. But, I'm always happy to find that I was wrong, and the situation turned out to be much better than I thought ...

TheVOR's picture

We all make a wrong call at times, I took Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning, and we all saw how well that turned out. I actually have a Tramon Jersey, and he's one of my all time favorite Packers. Wish I could get it signed before he retires, would look great in my collection. If he can still play, I really happy he's back.. That room went from weak, to the kind of talent we need to win! Also, of Joe Whitt can't get it done with this room, he can't get it done. That room is the strongest it's been in a very long time. These assistants need to step it up a notch and get these guys productive and valued on the field.

dobber's picture

I can't agree more: they need to get these kids coached up. Many of us felt really good about a Sam Shields/Randall/Rollins CB group a couple years ago when R & R were coming of solid rookie seasons....ugh, so much for that. Some of that goes to injury, some to attitude and the roles players were asked to play, but the key is that they now have a room full of CBs who play CB, and have been productive CBs either on the college or pro level.

Oppy's picture

He was an absolute beast
Great corner.

No idea how some Packers fans have downplayed his talent over the years.

Point Packer's picture

I was wrong about Capers being fired after the 2013 season. He should have been canned after the 2012 season.

The TKstinator's picture

Maybe admitting fault is easier for me than for most since I’ve done it so many times the shock wore off a long time ago.

Nick Perry's picture

Kevin King has already been said to be in Williams "back pocket", following him and picking his brain. I've also read pieces where Alexander and Jackson have been gravitating towards him, picking his brain whenever they can. I like the idea these rookies are humble enough to KNOW they don't have all the answers and WANT Williams wisdom.

The moment Williams signed we knew it was a quality, quality signing. Even if he's not the 14th ranked CB in the NFL this year, the experience Williams can offer these youngsters is priceless.

Lare's picture

I'm kind of torn, on one hand I'd like to see Williams have a very good, healthy & productive season. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind seeing him getting beat out of playing time by one of the rookies.

All in all, it's nice to add some veteran leadership on the team. For some reason, Thompson was more inclined to constantly be adding unproven UFA's.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Humble enough and smart enough too. It's a move that should benefit everyone, including Williams.

4thand1's picture

The move made more sense than anything. Trading Randall, getting a backup QB, and resigning a CB who's has a positive attitude and can play. The fact that he's mentoring the young guys says it all what kind of man and player he is. Our new GM appears to have made all the right moves, we have a lot of reasons to be excited this season.

GAE's picture

Look around the NFL, how many CB's & Safety's make it 8 or 10 yrs much less 12 AND at Tramon's high level? The leadership is so important to rookies as they are only a couple yrs removed from knowing how it felt to have a more experienced player encourage them at their schools.

Oppy's picture

I can name one, and you probably won't like it

Terrell Buckley.

13 seasons, 209 Games played, 50 INTs, 6 TDs

dobber's picture

I would have said Aeneas Williams: one of my favorite DBs of all time.

Rak47's picture

You can add Darell Green, Champ Bailey, Terrance Newman, and Antione Winfield to that list. As well as Aeneas Williams.

Bure9620's picture

I was wrong about Tramon as well when we initally let him walk 3 years ago. I Did not see him playing that well last year. The guy is just a freak athletically, always has been. He's similar to Peppers, just very little drop off. I hope he can sustain that level this season. Old man time is undefeated, I wonder how much he has left at the most athletically demanding position in major pro sports.

fthisJack's picture

some guys are just shall we say, "late bloomers" who hit their physical peak later than the normal guy and that helps them into their thirties. also, eating right and staying physically fit is important. and ,of course, being lucky not to have any major injuries.
i think Peppers, Woodson, Driver, Favre were these types of guys. i feel like Williams has several more years left in the tank barring injury.

dobber's picture

I like your Driver analogy more than Woodson/Peppers/Favre. He's a self-made guy: walk-on in college. UDFA in the pros, signed and released at the end of camp by Houston before being signed by to the Packers' PS. Makes his way to starter status. Earns a payday, but gets cut and ends up having to make his way around the league on short contracts. Makes you think he's someone who really values his career and works hard for it.

Archie's picture

You have to ask yourself, why did Ted let him go in the first place only to spend several top draft picks to find his replacement only to come up empty. Whatever Ted had in his first 5 years as Packers GM, he surely ran out of during his last 5 years. Makes me think the brain drain caught up to the Pack front office, thus exposing one Ted Thompson as an imposter. Either that or alzheimer's set in.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Because Williams was 32 years old in March 2015 and looked like he had lost a step. Cleveland gave him 3 yrs., $21M with $10M guaranteed. The guaranteed money was structured with only $500K signing bonus prorations with the rest of the $10M being roster bonuses. In other words, Williams was essentially guaranteed 2 years and $14M, with a club option for the third year.

ESPN reported that GB offered 2 years, $10M, which is probably a reasonable amount, but Cleveland was willing to pay more. $7M made Tramon the 19th highest paid CB. His play deteriorated after his shoulder injury.

One can argue that TT should have kept one of House or Tramon even if it meant overpaying and then drafting a CB or two on day one or two, but in isolation, it was perfectly reasonable to let Tramon walk.

Nick Perry's picture

Okay so WHEN exactly should Thompson stop letting every damn veteran walk in FA over money? Hayward, Williams, House, Jenkins, Lang, Sitton (I could keep going) all ended up leaving whether they were cut, low-balled, or not even offered a contract and it always seemed to come down to money or the player was at or near 30. Maybe I'm over simplifying it but that's a lot of talent he let walk.

stockholder's picture

Looking Back Is easy. I would have given Williams a shot a safety, like Leroy Butler. (First) Jenkins was a huge mistake. Sitton also did not go over with me. He wanted people to look like idiots. That he knew what was best. The "Yes" TT, was to obvious. This team was broken. It was up to A-Rod. And A-Rod was public about it. When a QB says he has to do it all. Management is screwed in the head! Do you really believe Adams would have worked out if it wasn't for A-Rod. Same with the rest of the offense. TT was Damn lucky to get A-Rod. TT should have been replaced earlier. I wonder if any scouts TT hired, actually new Defense. TT made himself the most important person on the packers. He became a politician, and nothing got Done Right!

croatpackfan's picture

The only broken here is you! (Well, and probably my English!)

stockholder's picture

8 years of Not returning to the super-bowl? Don Capers, plus staff replacements were long over - due. ( And thats not broken? ) You don't remember A-Rods comment. You prefer this. I was wrong on Adams. TT is still the man we trust. Brett Farve is now a poop hole. Fire MM. Mathews and Cobb are over-paid. A-Rod is the greatest QB of all time. Pay him! The cap is tooth repair. The packers are now the Strength of the NFC. You only see what you want to see.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I guess that is the trick, Nick. House got $6.125M AAV (and earned $12M with Jacksonville so it wasn't funny money). I could make the same argument about letting House go since he didn't seem worth that much. Remember all the articles about moneyball and our great cap space situation back then. Shields, Hayward, Hyde, Burnett and HHCD seems like 5 pretty good pieces for the secondary. Considering injuries, we could have used 2 more guys: at least one high pick and someone else would have been nice. TT went bare bones.

We should remember that the 2015 defense was perfectly decent. Not signing Williams and/or House didn't bite us until 2016 when we let Hayward walk as well and Shields got hurt. Personally, I put much of the blame on the coaches for not realizing what they had in Hayward and in part for not developing Randall, who has talent and in part on TT for failing to re-stock since Twill, House and Hayward is a quite a bit of talent to lose over 2 seasons.

PatrickGB's picture

Cory, I could not agree more. I really wondered if he had anything left in the tank when we picked him up again. He does and is also a great addition to the locker room. I hope that some of the same things can be said about House. He might surprise as well. He has struggled with injury but is often more than adequate and can help bring the rookies along and fill in when injuries strike.

dobber's picture

It seemed that most of the initial backlash on the signing came from a few perspectives...
1. ...but, he's OLD!
2. ...but, that's a lot of money to give an OLD CB for two years!
3. ...but, he's not Malcolm Brown or (insert other higher end CB here)!
In all, most of us wanted the splash signing that could be an immediate fix (while also likely hobbling the cap), which TWill was not. In retrospect, I'm relieved they didn't get Fuller away from the Bears.

It almost makes you wonder if BG had a TARDIS and traveled to the future to find out who he would draft and then traveled back to make a CB signing that would make a good bridge to the next era of GB DBs. There's still a not insignificant bit of gamble going on here so we should temper our enthusiasm, but the TWill signing gives them a reasonable chance of being decent in 2018 while building a backfield that has the potential to be stable and good for the next 5-7 years.

In Edit: as for your House point, I wouldn't be surprised if he plays a significant role in this defense before the season is up. He looks awfully good as a #4 or 5 CB.

CheesyTex's picture

Like it that Pettine now has (at least on paper) a lot of match-up flexibility at CB.

Would not be surprised to see rookie speed in on likely fly pattern downs.

Also would not be surprised to see Williams or House slide over to safety on occasion.

Bearmeat's picture

Yeah. Agreed completely. I was really disappointed that Gute didn't sign Fuller or another bigger name, but in retrospect, the two high draft picks and the two bridge vets should (key word there) man the position well for the foreseeable future.

I do think Gute struck out a bit at WR. Cutting Jordy, even if he had no wheels left, when we ended up having 10mil in salary cap available after everyone is signed is a bummer. Yes, I know GB can carry over 10 million to next year, but I'd rather have had the insurance of a true WR2 in Jordy. As it stands, if Davante gets hurt, the WR position is in dire straits. If we had gotten ARob, that would have been different....

Spock's picture

Bearmeat, The reality is that Graham is the 'true' WR2 and Jordy had lost more than a step last year. If Graham can still (as he claimed at his signing presser) run a 4.5 forty he will be used as the perimeter WR opposite Adams IMHO. The tall, fast, youngster WR's also may factor in. I'm not concerned at all about our wide receiver group. If the RT spot is good all else should be fine with Gute's moves to date.

Bearmeat's picture

Cory,

It takes something to admit you were wrong. Kudos. But I have to ask - why admit it now? I mean, most here think Tramon is going to be successful.. but why not wait until the season is a few games old to admit it? Nothing matters right now... and we really know very little.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I think signing House so cheaply was important. When healthy, he is competent. That should give the DC some more options if injuries strike. House can easily be cut if the other options look more promising during TC, but I like him as a probably dependable boundary option.

I view Josh Jackson as a boundary guy and like having King, Tramon, House and Jackson (if he lives up to his billing) as boundary guys. Tramon and Alexander can play both slot and boundary (I think anyway) so we can put players where their strengths and our needs align.

I suspect that Tramon will give us 600+ pretty good snaps wherever they are needed. That's the number of snaps he played in 2016 and 2017.

If Pipkens, Hawkins, Waters, etc., push House, so much the better. They can displace him on the roster or be the 6th CB if warranted.

Lare's picture

To me, the real Wild Cards in this are CBs on the current roster like Hawkins, Pipkins, Goodson, Brown, Rollins and Waters. If one or two of them produce it's going to be a pretty interesting battle in training camp and in the final roster cutdown.

Point Packer's picture

I thought this was a great signing from the get-go. Not sure how one could think otherwise. Many have been wrong about Tramon Williams throughout his career, including Ted Thompson, and he's proved them wrong again and again. Locker room leadership, something that GB lacked on the defensive side of the ball, is priceless. Add veteran talent to the mix, and its a no brainer.

White _tornado's picture

Like everyone else, i love to see an undrafted FA make it in the NFL. True underdog story and get a quality player without spending a draft pick. Problem is i think T Williams and S Shields made TT get a big ego thinking he could always find a UDFA somewhere to plug in anywhere he needed one. Just my opinion

4thand1's picture

TW during the SB run..........priceless. My favorite play, the int right before halftime in Atlanta, there is your dagger.

Johnblood27's picture

His play deteriorated after his shoulder injury.

There is your reason for TW not just staying put in GB.

His play was sub-par due to his shoulder injury and the team gave up on him.

He did not give up on himself and resurrected his career in Cleveland and Arizona.

I am glad that he doesn't hold grudges because the Packers sure dissed him in the past.

WKUPackFan's picture

You need to read Tgr's June 23, 12:13pm comment above for the actual reasons Green Bay originally released TWill. Or you could stick with some goofy story of rejection and redemption, your choice.

Spock's picture

I said early on that it would be a wise move to sign either or both House and Williams as mentors for upcoming draft choices. That was not exactly 'a look into the future' by me, just seemed like a common sense move to have experienced depth available. So far, this looks like a GREAT move by Gute! If the two draft choices and King can soak up the knowledge of the two wily veterans the Packers may have the makings of an outstanding DB group for years to come!

Cubbygold's picture

TW will start the year as the best CB on the roster, but the pack have to coach these rookies with some urgency because TW can't be the best CB on the roster entering the playoffs. As mentioned, he'll be the oldest starting CB in the league and a full year of play is going to impact him more than your average player. I hope Pettine is using a good rotation by mid season to avoid overworking tramon

PAPackerbacker's picture

Tramon Williams is a class act and I'm glad he returned to Green Bay! His experience will prove to be invaluable as the season progresses. His leadership role and experience can be a great tool for the rookies to learn from and develop their own skills. And as a result the defense will just keep getting better and better. Development is the key to success. And who better to teach the rookies than Tramon Williams. He has proven time and time again to be one of the best. Go! Pack! Go!

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