Leading up to the NFL Draft April 27, Brad Evans and Liz Loza will crouch down, explode off the snap and tackle pressing questions about some of this year’s most prominent prospects. Wednesday’s “Three-Point Stance” focus: Clemson WR Mike Williams.
When the clock hit zeroes after the National Championship game, many scouts believed Mike Williams was the indisputable top wide receiver in this year’s class. Some have wavered since, but what characteristics stand out most about the projected Round 1 pick?
Brad – If one were to create a “Westworld” mold of an ideal NFL wide receiver, Williams’ body type would be the inspiration. At 6-foot-4, 218-pounds, he owns the strength, wingspan and length to snatch most 50/50 balls, particularly in the end zone. Combine that with his ability to hit home runs deep downfield and contortionist skills and it’s no wonder why many draftniks believe he’s the top taco among WRs. Watch his Clemson film and he bailed out Deshaun Watson on several under/overthrows.
Liz – His size. At 6-foot-4 and nearly 220 pounds, the Clemson product is large and in charge. An impressive wingspan and plump mitts help Williams win contested catches and out-athlete smaller DBs. Tough and unafraid of getting physical, Williams knows how to track the ball. He can work all three levels of the field and has (literally) huge red zone potential.
On the flip side, what concerns might a GM or head coach have about Williams? Out of the gate, will he provide fantasy owners consistency?
Brad – In terms of technique, Williams is somewhat sloppy. His routes aren’t the cleanest, he lacks acceleration, at times isn’t physical enough despite his bullying frame and doesn’t generate enough leverage off his cuts/breaks. He’s that fancy foreign import you, during a midlife crisis, spent an ungodly amount of cash on that underperforms.
Without knowing destination, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much/little Williams delivers in his inaugural campaign. He certainly looks the part and will sporadically record highlight-reel catches, but his unpolished approach and occasional concentration lapses project initial growing pains. A bumpy rollercoaster ride similar to DeVante Parker, the Miami target’s health issues aside, seems like a fair comparison.
Liz – I’m all in on #teamtallreceiver, but Williams’ game lacks zip and energy. His routes are far from polished. Plus, he’s not particularly fast (declined to run the 40-yard-dash at the Combine, but clocked in at 4.56 at Clemson’s pro day) and the rest of his metrics are wholly “meh.”
Relying solely on size and determination at the next level is not well advised. His fantasy stock is likely to be QB dependent, as he doesn’t appear to have the skills necessary (at least immediately) to transcend below-average talent under center. Bottom line: at best he’s Alshon Jeffery and at worst he’s Laquon Treadwell (rookie season).
Peer into the future … What uniform would you most like to see Williams in? Assuming he inks a deal with the desired team, what’s your fearless forecast for him this fall? Where would he slot in your wide receiver rankings?
Brad – A number of potential suitors could kick the tires on Williams in Round 1. WR needy Tennessee, Buffalo, Arizona and Baltimore, which each possess a top-20 overall pick, will certainly entertain his services.
Since QB competency is a top priority for ensuring fantasy success, Arizona would probably be the best fit. Larry Fitzgerald is nearing the end of his career, John Brown can’t stay healthy and J.J. Nelson is more of a downfield-only speedster. Williams could step in and fill the outside role once manned by another big bodied receiver, Michael Floyd. If that comes to pass, Williams, much like his predecessor, would mesmerize the fantasy masses at times, but largely fail to deliver on the hype, at least out of the gate. At best, a rookie campaign in range of 55-725-5 should be expected regardless of employer.
Liz – I’d love to see Williams go to either the Titans or the Chargers. A QB with an accurate arm is key to the big man’s success. That said, I think Tennessee is likely to grab a CB with the fifth pick, and I’d bet the Chargers have Corey Davis ahead of Williams on their big board. In an effort to be realistic, I’m going to project that Williams lands in Buffalo.
The Bills are juice-cleanse thin at wide receiver. Sammy Watkins can’t stay healthy, and would probably appreciate another body attracting some defensive attention. While this may be good for the gents in Orchard Park, it’s not great for Williams’ FF value. In a run-first offense with an inconsistent QB and a defensively minded coach, the Clemson product’s opportunities figure to be limited. Assuming Williams finds a home in Buffalo, he’ll be ranked outside of my top 50 fantasy players at the position. FF: 51-768-4