Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
(percentile rank among all WRs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: DNP (Williams was clocked in the low 4.5s at his March 16 Pro Day.)
Vertical: 32.5” (16th)
Broad: 121” (57th)
20-yard shuttle: DNP
A 4-star recruit, Williams joined a stacked Clemson WR corps in 2013 that featured future NFLers Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant and Adam Humphries. The freshman finished that season 7th on the team in catches, 4th in receiving yards and 4th in receiving scores.
The departures of Watkins and Bryant paved the way for Williams to take on a much larger role in 2014. He led the Tigers in receiving yards, although WR Artavis Scott edged him in receptions (76) and TDs (8). Williams was the big play guy, though. His 18.1 yards per catch ranked 7th in the nation among 129 players with 50+ grabs.
Williams’ junior season ended on Clemson’s very 1st offensive possession. After making a TD catch in the back of the end zone, he slammed into the goal post and fractured the C6 vertebrae at the base of his neck. He was sidelined until February.
Williams made a rousing comeback this past season, starting with a 9-catch, 174-yard explosion in a season-opening win over Auburn. That was 1 of 5 games of 100+ yards for Williams last year. And he was a huge part of Clemson’s National Championship run, posting a 6-96 line in the semifinal win over Ohio State and an 8-94-1 vs. Alabama.
Williams’ 98 total catches were 2nd most in Clemson history and ranked 5th in the nation last year. He finished 11th in the NCAA in receiving yards and 22nd in TDs.
The numbers are a bit less impressive, though, when you consider that Clemson ranked 3rd in the country in passing yards and 4th in TDs. Williams’ 2016 market-share numbers pale in comparison to Corey Davis’.
Of course, Williams’ undoubtedly faced tougher competition playing in the ACC — and then drawing Ohio St. and Alabama in the College Football Playoff.
Courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com
Games watched - Auburn, Louisville, Florida St., Virginia Tech, Ohio St., Alabama
Watching Williams’ 2016 tape, I came away more impressed with his chemistry with QB Deshaun Watson than with Williams’ individual skill set. Watson would often throw Williams open, placing the ball where only his WR could get to it. The pair hooked up on numerous Aaron Rodgers-Jordy Nelson-esque back-shoulder throws.
That’s not to say Williams didn’t bring anything to the table. He’s a well-built receiver who plays even bigger than his listed size thanks to body control and a general understanding of how to keep himself between the ball and the defender.
Williams is willing and able to go into the teeth of a defense, absorb contact and make the catch.
He doesn’t display an elite vertical (which was confirmed at the Combine), but his size, body control and timing make him a strong high-pointer.
Williams flashes some after-the-catch ability …
… Although I’d like to see a big WR like him break more tackles. He too often went down on 1st contact.
The biggest concern with Williams, though, is that he simply doesn’t create much separation. A lot of his routes are rounded, and he doesn’t explode out of his breaks to free up space. That obviously isn’t a death knell — he was productive for Clemson — but it makes the margin for error smaller.
Williams’ stats, measurables and film all fall short of elite.
He put up nice numbers in his last 2 healthy seasons, but he benefitted from playing in highly productive passing games and didn’t dominate market share in them. Even his 11 TDs this past year are a tad underwhelming from a big, lead receiver on a team that tallied 45 passing scores.
His 40 time is fine for a 6’4, 218-pounder. But the 32.5-inch vertical is disappointing for a WR who did a lot of damage in the air at the college level.
The tape shows a 1-dimensional WR who’s largely dependent on ball placement from his QB. A mediocre route runner without much explosion out of breaks, Williams often struggles to create separation.
Now, he knows how to use his frame to box out defenders and is excellent in contested situations. But he’ll need a QB who allows him to use those assets by throwing his way even when he’s not open.
So landing spot will be important for Williams — not so much for offensive scheme but for the QB he’s paired with. An aggressive passer like, say, Jameis Winston would be good news for Williams’ fantasy outlook.
There’s bust potential in the wrong situation, though. And Williams might have trouble as an NFL offense’s #1, facing top CBs and/or bracket coverage. He’d look best as a #2 WR. And — before finding out his landing spot — I’d project him as a mid- or lower-end WR2 in fantasy football.