There are hundreds of players that work their entire lives to be drafted, but not every player gets a shot. The NFL draft is seven rounds and only 253 players are selected. After the draft, the remaining players are free to sign with any team and then join the squad in hopes to stay for the long haul. Most players don’t end up making it. In the words of former Chargers coach Mike McCoy, “We’re looking for the best 53-man roster.” The Bolts have a history of undrafted free agents not only making the squad but also making an impact. Look no further than tight end and future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates, who signed with the Chargers after a tryout.
Penn State cornerback Trevor Williams had a strong college career earning the team’s Ridge Riley Memorial Award, which goes to the player that shows the best core values of the team. Williams went undrafted in 2016 and then decided to sign with the Chargers.
“When I got the call I felt like it was a great opportunity and I felt like I could make it, but knowing that undrafted free agents like (Antonio) Gates had made it I felt comfortable,” said Williams on why he chose the Chargers.
He was brought in to compete for the backup role, but the injury bug quickly hit the Chargers as cornerback Jason Verrett was out for the year after tearing his ACL. Williams was signed from the team's practice squad and went on to play 12 games that season. He showed flashes of his potential during certain games but also made typical rookie mistakes.
“I just wanted to trust myself more and my rookie year helped me realize that I can play at this level, “explained Williams. “I should have been drafted, but unfortunately I was not, but that was just another chip on my shoulder.”
During the offseason, Williams focused on watching more of his film from the previous year and making sure he worked hard in the gym. During training camp number 24 kept shining; whether it was batting passes down or staying with the receiver the whole way. Williams was slated to be the slot cornerback once Verrett was back from injury, but after week one everything changed. Verrett went down with another knee injury and would be done for the season.
“Really good technique from Trevor,” said head coach Anthony Lynn, “Sometimes you don’t even know he is there and at his position. That is a good thing.”
Williams is now the starter opposite Casey Hayward. Together they hold down the fort as the Chargers defense ranks fourth against the pass only allowing 186 yards per game. They will need that type of power when they play the Denver Broncos on Sunday October 22.
“He has been playing very good all season,” said Hayward, “I worked out with him in the offseason and I knew when the moment would come he would be ready and he is.”
Williams had his first career interception during the 17-16 victory over the rival Oakland Raiders in week six. “Natural instincts kicked in and I trusted what I saw on film during that week,” said Williams, “I am going to decorate it, frame it, and hang up it.”
The Chargers defense is very young as they feature mostly players under the age of 28. Nose tackle, Brandon Mebane is the only player over 30. Williams continues to learn and make the necessary strides to help his team improve. The Chargers dug themselves in a hole with a 2-4 record entering week seven, but with their young core improving every week they could climb out of it and make their first season in Los Angeles a successful one.