By Adam Aniba
After signing only 1 UDFA in '21 (RB Jarrett Patterson), Ron Rivera has been a busy man post-draft, signing over a dozen UDFA's. Washington's most recent UDFA signing, a RIchmond native, sparked intrigue particularly with his measurables and performance during the HBCU Legacy Bowl.
Virginia State University defensive back Will Adams impressed during Washington's recent rookie mini camp tryouts, which led to a multi-year contract offer. Adams displayed the type of suddenness and agility in drills, that teams covet. Adams is an imposing figure in the defensive backfield.
Adams will be apart of the Commanders 90-man roster when organized team activities begin 5/23-26th and 5/31-6/2 with mandatory minicamp and training camp to follow in June.
The VSU safety displays the versatility to cover the slot and contribute on special teams. The lack of depth at safety, certainly gives Adams a chance to get valuable reps in camp. His college coaches raved about his work ethic and dedication in the weight room.
6'1" 185 lbs | DB | VSU
2021 (11 games) 61 tak (34 solo), 1.5 TFL, 1 PD and 1 int
Tale of the Tape
Impressive overall length for the position
Displays versatility, lined up at safety, slot and outside corner
Is a force when playing the run, displays solid tackling technique
Strong athlete (21 bench reps) needs to add lower-body mass for the NFL grind
Needs to work on flipping his hips/backpedal when transitioning
Lack of INTs/Passes Defended is a slight concern (Opposing QB's shied away from his side of the field)
Many of VSU's opponents, were heavy-run based schemes, which took away opportunities for interceptions/passes defended. When opposing signal callers did drop back, they often avoided Adams' side of the field entirely.
As a defensive back, playing in the CIAA involves a lot of plays being made in the trenches, with little room for DB's who shy away from contact. Adams brings the kind of grit and toughness that translate to the next level.
The VSU safety is solid in run support, utilizing every bit of his impressive wingspan when tripping up runners. Unfortunately, Adams had limited opportunities to display his ability as a coverage safety, based on his opponents scheme.
Adams is a stalwart on special teams, who loves to mix it up. Adams finished second on the team with total tackles (61) and had two games in '21, in which he registered double-digit tackles. His efforts last season earned him All-CIAA First team honors.
His versatility during the event stood out for NFL officials, who believe he can contribute in a variety of ways on the next level. His true position isn't as clear though and might not be determined until he gets a chance in training camp.
During the HBCU Combine in January, organizer Jim Nagy, who also runs the Senior Bowl, walked away impressed and had the following to say at the events presser.
“He stole the show. He’s looked good at every drill and in the workouts. Every scout is talking about him.”
Adams was a big time performer at the HBCU Combine. His 4.57 sec 40- yard dash time and 10-foot-3 broad jump, were on par with some of the other prospects at his position. HIs 40.5" vertical leap and 21 reps on bench press reps opened eyes, starting some buzz for the HBCU defensive back.
Prior to the HBCU combine, The Burgundy and Gold Report sat down with another HBCU cornerback, Joshua WIlliams (selected #135 in the 4th rd by KC) out of Fayetteville State. He and Adam's were two HBCU defensive prospects, that were on the radar heading into the draft.
Outlook & Projection
It was a surprise to some HBCU prospect evaluators, that every team passed on Adam's during the draft. His statistical output and lack of tape contesting catches in particular, certainly gave teams pause during the draft. Although his production came primarily defending the run, his combination of size/length and agility make him an ideal addition for Washington.
Safeties Bobby McCain and Kamren Curl are locked into the starting safety positions, with depth truly up for grabs. Rookie Percy Butler, Darrick Forrest, Troy Apke, Adams and others will be vying for potentially two, maybe three spots at safety. A few could also be vying for snaps with the cornerbacks.
The VSU defensive back is explosive with a much higher ceiling, than fellow DB's Forrest and Apke. His 3-year $2.5 million deal shouldn't be overlooked and Rivera seems to have plans for the young DB. Now it's up to Adams to make a name for himself this summer.
His transition could be a bit rocky to start, based on the level of competition and the schemes he faced. Although he'll have a steep learning curve, Adams continued development and exposure to NFL talent, could lead to a bright future for the local kid.
*Games Watched- 9/4 vs LRU, 9/11 vs ODU, 9/25 vs FSU, 10/2 vs St. Aug Univ, 10/16 vs Bowie St, 10/23 vs LU, 10/ vs CU & 11/6 vs VU
*Article quotes courtesy of theshadowleague.com