Brandon Powell was the Falcons punt and kick returner a season ago. He averaged 8.9 yards per punt, fielding 17 total, and averaged 20.2 yards per kick return. Atlanta ranked the fourth-worst in average punt return yardage and second-worst in kick return yardage. The Falcons went overkill on both positions, signing kick return stalwart Cordarrelle Patterson and drafting punt return specialist Avery Williams in the fifth round of April’s draft.
Williams scored nine times on punts and kicks during his time at Boise State, and this is where he will get his first crack at playing as a professional. He will be a gunner on punts and kickoffs and is the favorite to be the guy fielding punts on the return team. I wouldn’t be shocked if he turned into a special teams captain. There’s no question he’ll contribute immediately in the third phase of the team, but it’s becoming increasingly possible that he plays a role on all three phases — offense, defense, and special teams.
In his media session today, Williams said he played running back and receiver in high school, and though he’s listed on the Falcons roster as a cornerback, Arthur Smith said he could be used on offense.
The shortest route to seeing to the field is special teams, but Williams can develop into a starting-caliber cornerback in the future or possibly act as a gadget type of player for the offense. It isn’t outside the realm of possibility for him to contribute in all three phases. Jamal Agnew had a similar role in Detroit, where he played cornerback, wide receiver, and returned punts. I could see a similar career trajectory for Williams.