Mike Williams hails from Santee. South Carolina where he attended Lake Marion High School. He dominated the gridiron during his junior and senior seasons, posting 126 receptions, 2,691 yards, and 21 touchdowns en route to being named a four-star recruit by Rivals.com as a senior.
Instead of staying closest to home and playing for the Gamecocks, Williams chose to commit to Clemson and play under head coach Dabo Swinney.
He saw the field right away for the Tigers, earning three starts as a true freshman. He ended his first season with 20 receptions for 316 yards and three touchdowns. He followed that with a sophomore campaign that saw him become a full-time starter and notch his first 1,000-yard season with 1,030 yards on 57 receptions and six scores.
During the first game of his junior season, Williams fractured a bone when he collided with a goal post during an attempted touchdown catch. The injury forced him to sit the remainder of the year which caused him to also use his redshirt.
In 2016, Williams was back in the starting lineup for each of Clemson’s 15 games. He set career highs with 98 receptions, 1,361 yards, and 11 touchdowns.
Williams performed his pre-draft athletic tests during Clemson’s pro day after he chose to sit out the combine for further preparation. He ended up being timed at 4.54 in the 40-yard dash with a 32.5” vertical and a 10’1 broad jump.
After a back injury kept Williams out of training camp, he didn’t officially make his NFL debut until week six against the Raiders. He ended up starting just one game and playing in 10 total as a rookie. He finished the year with just 11 catches for 95 yards.
In his first full year without injury, Williams helped the Chargers reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013 by catching a career-high 10 touchdowns (scoring 11 total) to go with 664 yards on 43 catches. He was productive once again in 2019, but traded in touchdowns for yards as he scored twice but went over 1,000 yards for the first time in his pro career.
After regressing to 756 yards in 2020, Williams broke out during the 2021 season with 76 catches, 1,146 yards, and nine touchdowns. It was the first time ever leading the Chargers in both receiving yards and touchdowns since being drafted.
In 2022, after missing four games to injuries, Williams recorded 895 yards and four touchdowns on 63 catches.
Years with team: 6
“Mike Williams signed a 3 year, $60,000,000 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $21,000,000 signing bonus, $40,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $20,000,000. In 2023, Williams will earn a base salary of $1,080,000 and a restructure bonus of $10,920,000, while carrying a cap hit of $13,540,000 and a dead cap value of $26,000,000.” - Spotrac.com
Williams’ game is headlined by his highlight-reel catches that seem to only get better and better with each season. There’s a reason Brandon Staley calls a normal 50/50 ball a “80/20” ball when it’s Williams on the receiving end. His ability to rise above the rim and pluck balls out of the air is nothing short of special and it’s a heck of a weapon to have for Justin Herbert to utilize in two-minute situations.
This lands in my top 3 favorite drives from last season!⚡️ The throw by Justin Herbert was spot on, the catch was incredible by Mike Williams, the kick was magnificently on the money by Cameron Dicker & This was all done under a minute of time on the clock! #BoltUp pic.twitter.com/F3xJwc2eeC— ⚡️ᒍᗩᑕOᗷᗰᑕKIᑎᑎEY⚡️ (@BoltUp_Chargers) August 30, 2023
The recent injuries are hopefully just a fluke as Williams played in at least 15 games the previous four season before missing four games in 2022.
Due to Williams’ lack of elite speed, he does have to rely on his jump-ball skills a bit more than you’d like for a receiver making $20 million a year. You’d of course want the whole package (route-running, YAC, etc.) but Williams is still one of the best X-receivers in the NFL, regardless.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2023?
Williams is one of the Chargers top two wideouts on the team and he’ll hopefully have the chance to put up some career highs in his first year under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Unlike with Joe Lombardi in 2020-2021, Moore plans to move all of the wideouts around in an attempt to find advantageous matchups which means Williams won’t always be on the outside while Keenan Allen won’t always be in the slot. If the Chargers are able to utilize Williams more near the goal line, there’s no reason not to expect 8-10 touchdowns for him in 2023.