The Bengals didn’t re-sign Reggie Nelson with George Iloka choosing to stay in Cincinnati. When Reggie Nelson made it official by signing with the Oakland Raiders, it almost guarantees Shawn Williams the spot at starting safety, beside Iloka.
Williams has been a key member of the Bengals depth in their secondary the past few seasons. Last season, the Bengals ran into a lot of injuries late in the season. Shawn Williams was vital in the Wildcard game against the Steelers, when Reggie Nelson went out with an ankle injury, and did not return.
Williams originally was expected to beat George Iloka for the strong safety position, but was out performed in camp and Iloka became the starting safety. Now, Williams has another chance to become the starting safety, and it is hard to believe he would let another opportunity pass.
Williams finished 2015 with 32 tackles, five pass deflections, but more impressively, he had two interceptions in his limited playing time, including only four starts. In the Wildcard game, Williams recorded five tackles but also had a forced fumble to help the Bengals keep the game close and eventually take the lead.
It has yet to be seen if the Bengals will push him into the free safety role or switch Iloka to the free safety and move Williams into the Strong Safety role. He will help this team drastically in any capacity if he can continue to make strides from where he finished last season. He will be a key in the pass defense and will be a player to watch as he grows.