Cincinnati Bengals: Top 3 breakout candidates for 2017

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Jun 13, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals free safety George Iloka (43) looks on during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals free safety George Iloka (43) looks on during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports /

Shawn Williams

Shawn Williams was recently put into the starting lineup after the departure of Reggie Nelson. Williams demonstrated great coverage ability before Nelson left. Nelson was the beloved safety of the Bengals after leading the NFL with 8 interceptions. Cincinnati decided to move on from him due to age and the projected salary he could command. Then came Williams. He was inserted as the team’s starting strong safety, as an immediate fix. But, the Bengals acted quickly and signed Shawn. They negotiated a 4-year $20 million dollar contract to lock up their young safety. Williams produced in his first season as a starter with three interceptions. But, he lacked one thing: run defense.

Although Williams wasn’t the absolute worst at run defense, it didn’t help that George Iloka wasn’t very good with that aspect of the D either. If Williams can correct some of his tackling issues and take better angles, he could be a top-end safety and a bargain for the Bengals. He definitely has a ton of room and time to grow, as he’s only 26-years-old. But, his development will be a huge factor in the Bengals’ defense being successful. What he has going for him is the ability to make hard hits. He’ll intimidate players with aggression to add that fear factor.

Next: Shook To The Core

What’s his outlook like?

I fully expect Williams to keep growing as a player and provide thunderous tackles with Iloka in the upcoming season. Although he may not have the hands of Nelson, he can still make plays on the ball. Look for Shawn Williams to be a big part of the defense next season and make a huge leap in his play.

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