Finally, a stud.
After weeks of waiting for a prospect to step forward and knock the socks off NFL teams, USC wide receiver Mike Williams gave the league a superstar to orbit around Thursday.
Stepping out in front of 56 scouts, coaches and executives, Williams showcased a combination of size and athleticism that should make him this draft's can't-miss prospect. Standing just an eyelash under 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 229 pounds, Williams ran his 40-yard dashes in the mid-4.5-second range.
One team representative in attendance said Williams "had people grinning" during drills, as he showcased the size and skill that made him one of the most dangerous players in college football two seasons ago.
"He can't get much higher [on draft boards]. There can't be but one, two, three kids ahead of him," the source said of Williams' draft prospects, which have been steadily rising since he ran and went through interviews at the scouting combine last month in Indianapolis. "There might even be some maneuvering around to get at him."
Williams' Thursday workout took place in Tampa, but it wasn't just proximity that explained the presence of almost the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers brain trust, including coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen.
Rumors have been swirling since the combine that the Bucs have locked onto Williams with the No. 5 pick in the draft. One league source suggested earlier this week that the Minnesota Vikings (who have two first-round picks) would attempt to move up to the Cleveland Browns' No. 3 spot to land Williams if the Vikings cannot secure a No. 1 wide receiver via trade or free agency. The Chicago Bears, who own the fourth overall choice, also are interested (general manager Jerry Angelo interviewed Williams in Tampa on Tuesday).
There was some concern about Williams entering the combine, particularly after he had spent one year away from college football and offered no fresh film to evaluate. But a handful of teams said he interviewed well and improved his standing by running his 40-yard dashes after originally planning to bypass the sprint. Considering his size, teams were pleased when he ran in the high 4.5s.
With the draft a little more than a month away, the top 10 picks remain almost entirely undefined. Even the No. 1 choice seems shrouded in mystery as the San Francisco 49ers await pro day workouts of Cal's Aaron Rodgers and Utah's Alex Smith.
Williams entered Thursday's workout behind Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards on some scouting reports. That may have changed, but it's worth noting that Edwards will have a chance to respond on March 18, when Michigan holds its pro day.
- Mike Williams