With Brandon Powell going into free agency and signing with Buffalo, it left a gap in the Falcons’ special teams depth chart. Falcons drafted renowned Boise State CB, Avery Williams, to address this. Williams brings an elite punt returning ability to Atlanta, adding depth to both special teams and the secondary unit. He is a cornerback by trade, but don’t be fooled; he was brought to Atlanta to return punts.
Avery Williams was drafted by Atlanta 183rd overall in the 2021 draft. The Boise State product made All-Mountain West First Team and was nominated the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year in 2019.
The year he won Special Teams Player of the Year for the Mountain West, he finished seventh in the country, averaging 13.2 yards per punt return. To put that in perspective, former Falcons punt returner, Brandon Powell, averaged 8.9 yards per return last year.
If Avery Williams’ talents in the punt return realm can translate over to the big leagues, Williams will be a tremendous help for the Falcons special teams unit. His punt returning ability made him a standout special teams player in college, and the Falcons plan to utilize that part of his game in the pros.
On the Falcons’ depth chart, Williams is currently 2nd string punt returner behind Chris Rowland. Not only will he be learning from Rowland, but will also have the opportunity to take pieces of Cordarelle Patterson’s kick return game and apply that to punts. Patterson, known for his kick returns, will surely be a great mentor for Williams.
NFL.com calls Williams a “Special teams monster with rare production.”
Although he is known as more of a special teams weapon, Avery Williams knows the cornerback position. Last on the depth chart for the cornerback position, it is clear that the Falcons picked him specifically for special teams. At 5’8″, weighing 187 pounds, he is undersized for an NFL corner. NFL.com predicts that he would have a difficult time making tackles at the pro level. NFL.com also noted that Williams tends to lose coverage races downfield. Darren Hall is the realistic 2021 draftee to make an impact at the cornerback position down the road.
Avery Williams was brought to Atlanta for a very specific reason. He is an incredible punt returner, and under the mentorship of Cordarelle Patterson and Chris Rowland, Avery Williams is slated to be a special teams force for the Falcons for years to come.