When the Los Angeles Chargers spent the 7th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft on Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams, the usual suspects cried about it. And throughout his injury-plagued rookie campaign, it certainly looked like they may have had a point. However, during the 2018-19 NFL season, something happened: Williams started looking like not just the dominant collegiate player he was but a guy who may have actually been worth a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft.
CLUTCH, MIKE DUB. CLUTCH! pic.twitter.com/VTK0U7OGUX— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) December 14, 2018
Aside from the memorable clutch moments of which there were several (none more memorable or more clutch than the end of the Kansas City Chiefs game in which the Bolts took their first lead of the game on the game-winning two-point conversion), Williams was simply outstanding across the entire season. Pro Football Focus gave him a higher grade on the year than all but 15 other receivers. On his 64 targets, Williams only had a pair of drops and (per PFF) Philip Rivers had a 145.2 passer rating when targeting Williams on in-breaking routes.
The present and likely the future of successful NFL passing games comes from being able to dominate the middle of the field, and hardly anyone on any NFL team is able to match Williams there. It’s worth noting that he actually improved as the season progressed so it is well within reason to think Williams can have an even bigger impact in the coming season even with Hunter Henry’s return likely making the competition for targets a good deal tougher than it was.
Overall, though, even if Williams were to plateau with 2018’s performance, the Chargers and their fans would not be too disappointed. His 39.2% DVOA was second only to the Seattle Seahawks’ Tyler Lockett, and his 10 receiving touchdowns were good for fifth among all wideouts.