WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Delvin Breaux knows a thing or two about surprising people.
After spending some time in the CFL, he came out of nowhere last year and emerged as one of the NFL's better cornerbacks. He now appears poised to take the next step.
So, maybe we should listen when he says fellow New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams is going to "shock the league" this year.
"He had his redshirt year last year, and he's come back strong, healthy," Breaux said. "Right now, it's just more mental for him because he has all the physical tools."
Breaux knows how these things work, and he's seeing what everyone else is seeing in camp so far.
Williams hasn't had an issue flashing the physical tools Breaux mentioned throughout the summer. He hasn't been perfect, but he has made a number of plays while filling in for Keenan Lewis as the outside cornerback in the base defense.
His best moment came Friday when he jumped a Drew Brees pass and pulled it in for an interception. The quarterback wasn't pleased with himself, letting out a loud scream in frustration after the play. But for the defense, it was the continuation of a strong summer that has seen the secondary produce multiple turnovers and consistently create opportunities.
"He's a guy that has played at a high level in college," coach Sean Payton said of Williams, who was selected in the third round out of Florida State in 2015. "He has adjusted well. He's playing snaps not only outside but also in the nickel inside. So we just have to continue to work on some of the details."
In some regards, this is Williams' debut in the NFL. He logged a few snaps last summer but landed on injured reserve with a torn hamstring before the start of the season. So, while the other members of the rookie class were getting action in games, Williams spent the year watching his teammates and attending meetings.
Make no mistake: He would have preferred to be on the field, performing and gaining experience, but he sees the value in having a year to adjust to life in the NFL without the pressure.
"I think it benefited me a whole lot," Williams said. "A lot of the rookies come in, and they play a little bit and go through the little growing pains. I got to do it off the field and learn a whole lot, learn the NFL, learn the defense and just be able to come this year and be much more prepared and feel much better."
One of the things Williams did as a rookie was latch on to Breaux. Both players were in their first year in the NFL, but after Williams saw the success Breaux was having, he realized he could learn a lot from his teammate.
Williams keyed in on Breaux's technique, particularly in press-man coverage, and constantly picked his brain for tips and tricks. It's something he continues to do.
"A whole lot, man. He had a great year last year," Williams said. "A lot of things he does, I do. I also want to do them a little better. ... He teaches me a lot, and we teach each other."
It's not yet clear where Williams will fit when Lewis returns. He's currently logging snaps on the outside, then moving to the slot when the team is in its nickel packages. When Lewis returns, Williams likely will serve predominantly as a nickel cornerback.
Damian Swann, entering his second season, filled that role last year before his season ended after a series of concussions. There certainly is more depth on the roster this year, with even a couple of young players like De'Vante Harris and Ken Crawley pushing for roster spots.
"I want all those guys to make the team just because we're building a brotherhood up in there," Breaux said. "We got guys up in there that want to ask questions, they want to know how to get better, how to play this leverage, how to do that."
That brotherhood should be even stronger now that Williams is back in action.