I feel like this in inevitable. General Manager Tom Telesco will realize he won’t be able to count on Keenan Allen to stay healthy and will address, in his mind, the biggest priority in the 1st round. That’s getting Philip Rivers a #1 receiver. With their draft meeting, the Chargers met with Clemson’s Mike Williams. It would be ironic to replace Allen with Williams, considering he missed all of 2015 with a neck injury
The 6’3, 225-pound receiver has some mouth-watering traits. But he also has some red flags as a receiver that are a cause for concern. His pro day in a couple days will be interesting. If he ran at the combine I’m guessing we would’ve seen somewhere in the low 4.6’s. Safe to shave off a couple tenths at the combine so mid to high 4.5’s is what I’d expect. He only jumped 32.5” in the vertical, which puts him in the 16th percentile. That’s the opposite of good. It was surprising considering the type of receiver he is. His 10-foot broad jump was as average as can be as well. The lack of explosion is a concern.
I want to show you Mike Williams the receiver in 5 routes. Let’s start with where he’ll make his money at
Moss Drill Skills
Williams is the best receiver in the draft when the ball is in the air. He may not have a 40 inch vertical but his positioning, timing, and ability to catch the ball at its highest point are all 1st round traits. Below, he was against off coverage. He just kind of glided by the corner.
Instead of running straight, he does what an advanced receiver should, he “stacks” the corner so if he doesn’t catch it, nobody does. You see he times his jump and high points the ball, all while holding on through contact. In the air, contact doesn’t affect Williams at all. How his quarterback takes his game to the next level in the 4th quarter, Williams takes his game to the next level in contested situations.
Per Matt Harmon of NFL.com, Williams contested catch conversion rate was 81.3. It’s always good when the numbers match up with what you’re seeing. This is the case with Williams.
He had 3-4 of these against Pittsburgh. But it was consistent throughout the year. His QB gave him a chance on these back shoulder fades and Williams made the most of them. Being open when you’re covered is a skill. A necessary one at that. Williams ability to track and hold on to the ball with defenders draped all over makes quarterbacks lives so much easier.
Skeptical of Speed
It’s not so much is 40 as it is Williams ability to alter his speed throughout routes that I have issues with. I’m skeptical of his speed during his routes. This shows up on slants where he rounds into his routes. It hasn’t shown up yet. But the better corners next year will be able to beat him to the spot and the results will be different, methinks.
This shows up usually in off coverage. Williams has a tendency to tip off his routes at the top when he goes to cut. On one hand, you could say, “he’s made the contested situations he’s had to.” Since we are projecting, the more savvy corners will be a step ahead of him. You’d like to see more nuance when Williams goes to break. Instead, you’ll see him over and over try to just out muscle corners. His technique will need to be refined if he wants to reach his peak at the next level when it comes to separating. In each game, you’ll see how he rounds into routes. As a pure route runner, I wouldn’t say he’s a 1st round talent.
Williams is hot and cold here. He has some reps where the corner will get their hands on him first and then the timing is completely thrown off for the rest of the route. When Williams is the aggressor, though, it’s easy to see why he’s being mocked where he is. There are reps of Williams beating press that are as precise as it gets.
Off the line, it’s imperative for the receiver to gain ground and burst the CB’s bubble. You’ll see receiver’s dancing in one spot accomplishing nothing. Just taking a few steps forward here, Williams gets the corner to open up just enough and he capitalizes. Then he uses a nice swim to make sure he stays clean and finishes the route. A nice rep.
Below is what I’d imagine the best route of Williams’ life.
This is a release you use if you don’t think you can win with quickness inside. You take two hard steps to the outside and on the 3rd you plant, chop with your inside hand, and swipe through with your outside hand to gain leverage. Williams could not have executed this release any better.
Notice how both of these plays are on 3rd down. That’s a big deal to me. Winning on a “money down”
What’s Williams Worth
I’ve gone back and forth on him. He is the 2nd hardest eval at the position this year. He’s a one-speed route runner, which is a no-no usually. But he can get off press coverage and make plays through contact. He tips off his routes, making plays in traffic wasn’t an issue. He is a marginal athlete on paper, but when the ball is in the air, you won’t find a better receiver. Williams is a reliable target, logging a 3.2% drop rate. But, there’s always a but, he leaves a lot to be desired after the catch.
Williams isn’t the kind of receiver you take in the top 10. That is such a high investment into a player lacking a couple 10 ten traits. He’s no slouch, though. Far from it. Williams will likely produce a career similar to the type of player he plays & tests like, Plaxico Burress. At 6’6, 231, Burress ran a 4.59, had a 33” vertical & 9’7” broad jump. But he won with positioning and always seemed to come down with contested catches on big downs. That’s Williams ceiling. I understand Burress went top 10, but he never had over 78 catches in his career. In the new age NFL, Williams has a better shot but is more of a fringe 1st rounder than a top 10 player.