Falcons Expect Many Happy Returns from Avery Williams

Falcons Expect Many Happy Returns from Avery Williams


Loren Orr, Getty Images

Cornerback Avery Williams of the Boise State Broncos returns an onside kick attempt for a touchdown against the Colorado State Rams on October 19, 2018.

On Saturday the Atlanta Falcons selected cornerback Avery Williams with the No. 183 overall pick in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Boise State. It was the team’s third selection in the fifth round, following on the heels of defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham and defensive end Ade Ogundeji.

Avery—5-foot-9 and 195 pounds—played in 48 games over the course of four years after earning a place on the team as a walk-on. During that time, he amassed 152 total tackles (111 solo), along with four interceptions, 26 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Most of that production came at cornerback, though he also played safety during his senior year.

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Yet where he really made a name for himself is on special teams, where he had nine career returns for touchdowns (which tied the NCAA record), not to mention five blocked kicks. That includes 82 punt returns for 948 yards and six touchdowns (11.6 yard average), and 38 kickoff returns for 1,042 yards and three touchdowns (27.4 yard average).

“That’s my passion. That’s how I first got onto the field at Boise State,” said Williams, speaking to the media via Zoom call shortly after he was selected. “That has definitely what has driven me this far and I’m looking forward to continuing that at the next level.”


Cordarelle Patterson an Inspiration

Asked about which NFL kick returners he has looked up to, Williams mentioned Devin Hester and Percy Harvin, as well as his new teammate Cordarrelle Patterson—“guys like that, who changed the game,” he said.

“I’m more than excited” about getting a chance to play with—and learn from—Patterson, he added, noting Cordarrelle is “a guy I always looked up to.”

As for what has made him successful as a return man: “The main thing is you’ve got to be fearless back there,” he advised.


How Does He Fit with the Falcons?

If you ask Williams, he says he’ll be happy to contribute any way he can.

“What I want to show is I can do anything,” he said. “Not only can I, but I am more than willing to do anything, so whatever is going to help the Atlanta Falcons be the best team, that’s where they’ll put me and that’s where I’ll be.”

According to Michael Rothstein, who covers the Falcons for ESPN, that includes special teams, defense and maybe even offense.

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