The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

NFL Network analysts offer insight into Williams, Shurmur

Left photo by Claire Barnett, Right photo by Madison Lindeman

In less than 24 hours, the Arizona Cardinals will be on the clock.

With the 2019 NFL Draft just around the corner, The Vanderbilt Hustler chatted with some of NFL Network’s best and brightest to hear their two cents on Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur and cornerback Joejuan Williams ahead of the biggest weekend of their football careers.

Just recently, Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason made a comparison between Joejuan Williams and Richard Sherman. As a former defensive coach at Stanford, you’d think the correlation was justified.

The current Stanford head coach and offseason NFL Network analyst David Shaw confirmed that connection through their height:

“The two things you can’t fake in the NFL at the corner position are length and speed,” Shaw said. “If you’ve got length, you can play just about every receiver in the NFL as long as you’re smart and play on top and know how to play the deep ball. He’s got that, he’s got those tools, he’s got those skill sets, and NFL teams covet that.”

Joel Klatt furthered that notion–not only did he wax poetic on the value of Williams’ size, but he, too made the connection.

“[Joejuan’s size is] very rare, which is why it’s so valuable,” he said. “In particular, when you’re talking about the perfect fit for an organization, if an organization is more of a quarter seam or a pattern match team or even a zone team in general, that length makes a big difference like Seattle and the Legion of Boom. That’s what made Richard Sherman such a lethal player is his length in zone coverage… From a quarterback’s standpoint, I don’t want to see somebody out there that has that amount of length and disruption radius.”

Perhaps the most telling of the compliments for Williams came from Charles Davis, a former defensive back for the Tennessee Volunteers.

“[He’s got] length, man,” Davis said. “That’s easy. But it’s more than that. When I pop on the tape and watch him, I like how he uses his length. Long armed guy, controls people with that at times when they’re trying to get downfield. Actually, he drops his hips very well to run with receivers and change direction better than maybe you might expect out of a guy that looks like he’s a skyscraper. And, he’s a willing tackler. I think he’s in play starting with the second round right away…and I think there’ll be a nice little roar from those in Nashville for him who support Vanderbilt.”

In our own analysis piece, I predicted Williams to be taken at the end of the first round by the New England Patriots. While Davis didn’t give an exact projection of where Williams could land, he did mention a couple systems in particular that could use a corner with such great length.

“If you look at what Seattle does, press corner, doing all of those things, being able to handle it that way,” Davis said. “Richard Sherman wasn’t a blazer. That sort of thing, Cover 2 teams, that Tampa-type team where you’re up there bullying wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, using that length and all of that where speed isn’t a premium, those types of teams he fits.”

Daniel Jeremiah, a former NFL scout and current analyst, was about as excited as could be to see Williams at the next level. In fact, he thought NFL GMs would agree–perhaps we’ll see his name taken off the big board as early as tomorrow night.

“[Joejuan is] fun,” he said. “He’s a fun player. I think he has a chance to sneak into the back of the first round, I really do. I think he’ll go in the top 40 picks if he doesn’t go in the first, but he’s so long and so tough, he plays the ball really well. I think some teams have looked at him as kind of a matchup guy, not saying they’ll necessarily draft him as a corner, we’re going to have a guy we can match up with the tight ends on some weeks, we can play him at some safety. If you’re a cover three team, you can play him at corner and let him just play the deep third. He’s a good football player.”

As the topic of discussion shifted from the defensive to the offensive side, analysts, experts, and even a Hall of Fame quarterback continued to sing praise for Shurmur. Kurt Warner thought that his experiences growing up in a football family could serve to his benefit at the next level even in a backup role.

“When you get to the NFL level, any advantage you have over someone else is huge, whatever that is,” Warner said. “Athletic ability, arm strength, tremendous accuracy, knowledge of the game. Anybody that can be like a coach at any position, but specifically at the quarterback position… When I was in Green Bay with Brett Favre and Mooch [Steve Mariucci] and Ty Detmer and Mark Brunell, when we got out of the meeting rooms with Mooch, Ty would become that next guy. If Brett needed to know the answer to something, I’m going to look to Ty first because he plays, he understands the game, but he also has tremendous knowledge. I think there’s always a place for a smart guy in that room…I think that’s something that’s going to help him because he’s been around so much of that most of his life.”

Shaw reiterated the importance of Shurmur’s knowledge and experience. If Shurmur does see his name get taken, he won’t be surprised by anything an NFL defense might throw his way.

“Experience, pedigree, he’s not going to be shocked by the NFL, he’s been around it his entire life,” Shaw said. “Very smart, very accurate, and having a great reputation as a bright young man, as a backup quarterback, you’re not going to get a lot of reps. So that backup quarterback has to be very bright, he’s got to be able to pick up the gameplan without getting the reps and be ready to step in at a moment’s notice and go out and execute the gameplan. I think everybody that’s been around him and watched him play and some of us that recruited him know he’s got those capabilities.”

We’ve heard from the experts and now, we wait to hear from the executives. Over the course of the next three days, it’ll become clear how these NFL front offices value the two former Commodores.

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About the Contributor
Simon Gibbs
Simon Gibbs, Former Sports Editor
Simon Gibbs (‘21) is the former Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He has been on staff since the first semester of his freshman year, previously serving as a Staff Writer, Senior Writer and Deputy Sports Editor. Simon is also the host of VU Sports Wired on Vanderbilt Video Productions and The Hustler Sports 30 on VandyRadio. Simon has attended several events as credentialed media, including the 2019 NFL Draft, 2019 College Baseball World Series and the 2019 SEC Tournament. Outside of his Commodore coverage, Simon has had bylines published on and When he's not writing, you can find Simon watching his hometown New York Mets, waiting for that next ring. For tips, comments or concerns, please reach out to: [email protected]    
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