Williams will not work out prior to the draft as he rehab the ACL he tore in last year’s National Championship.
Williams was a 2-sport star at Cardinal Ritter College Prep in St. Louis. He won 2 state track and field titles, setting the Missouri record in the 300-meter hurdles. On the gridiron, Williams posted 36-1,062-15 and 68-1,626-22 receiving lines in his final 2 seasons. He was tabbed a 4-star prospect and garnered scholarship offers from over 40 schools.
Williams ultimately opted for Ohio State but had trouble getting on the field amid a strong WR room.
As a true freshman, he played just 153 snaps across 10 games, finishing 6th among Buckeyes WRs in catches behind K.J. Hill, Chris Olave, Binjimen Victor, Garrett Wilson and Austin Mack.
Williams finished 3rd among Ohio State WRs with 308 snaps in 2020, behind Wilson and Olave. But he still accounted for just 5.7% of the team’s catches, 7.3% of the receiving yards and 9.1% of the receiving scores.
With his role still in flux heading into his junior year, Williams entered the transfer protocol and headed to Alabama. The Crimson Tide were on Williams’ short list coming out of high school.
“I felt like it was the best situation for me out of all the other schools,” Williams said. “I had a great relationship with the coaches there from the past. Everything really just fell into line at the right time.”
It turned out to be an excellent decision. Williams won a starting job out of the gate and turned in a huge 2021 season. He ranked 5th in the nation in receiving yards and tied for 3rd in TDs. Williams was a big-play machine, ripping off 19.9 yards per catch and scoring 4 TDs of 70+ yards.
Williams was part of a top 10 passing game and actually ranked just 2nd on the team in catches behind fellow 2022 WR prospect John Metchie’s 96. But Williams led in receiving yards and TDs and posted nice market shares: 20.8% of the catches, 31.0% of the yards and 31.3% of the scores.
Williams’ 3.12 yards per route run ranked 13th among 200 WRs with 50+ targets last year. He finished 19th among that group in Pro Football Focus’ receiving grades. Williams ran 71.4% of his routes from the outside but was most dangerous in the slot, where he averaged a massive 5.10 yards per route. That led all 200 WRs who saw at least 20 slot targets last season.
Williams was named a First-Team All-American and a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award given to the nation’s best receiver. He ultimately lost out on that to Pittsburgh’s Jordan Addison.
On top of all of that, Williams also averaged 35.2 yards per kick return with 2 TDs. He was named SEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Year.
Unfortunately, Williams’ breakout 2021 season ended with a torn left ACL in the National Championship on January 10. He also suffered some damage to the meniscus but was able to have surgery on January 13.
University of Alabama team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lyle Cain, who performed the surgery, spoke to The Athletic in March about the recoveries of Williams and John Metchie, who also tore his ACL late last season.
“They’re both doing really well. I don’t expect either Jameson or John Metchie to have trouble with their knees. Once they recover and get past (the injury) to get back on the field, I don’t expect it to affect their career.”
“My expectation is both guys will look really good by the time they go to camp in July or August. I think both of them will be ready to play, but each team has their own process.”
Courtesy of FF Astronauts
Games watched - Miami, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Georgia, Cincinnati
There’s fast. Then there’s fast fast.
Williams is fast fast.
Here’s that 94-yard TD again. Williams creates multiple steps of separation from his defender in a blink – and then easily beats the angle of #26 to get into the end zone.
There’s angle-beating speed all over Williams’ tape – both before and after the catch. It’s obvious that defenders just aren’t used to playing guys with his type of juice.
I also came away impressed by Williams’ hands. He posted a solid 7.1% drop rate last season, per Pro Football Focus, and consistently showed the ability to make grabs in tight coverage.
Williams looks like an improving route runner. I didn’t see much to like in that department in his early-season games vs. Miami and Texas A&M, but he did a better job creating separation on intermediate routes later in the year. He can struggle against physical press coverage and isn’t super sharp on short routes. But his speed gets defenders on their heels, helping Williams snap off routes in front of them.
There are certainly warts on Williams’ profile. The ACL is actually the least of my worries. That’s a reliable surgery nowadays, and all reports have Williams on or ahead of schedule in his rehab. We’ll see whether he’s ready come Week 1, but it’s not much of a concern long term.
What is concerning is that Williams is just a 1-year producer, doing virtually nothing across 2 seasons at Ohio State. He was battling for snaps with multiple future NFLers, of course, but you’d still expect him to do more than total 15 catches.
We should also keep an eye on Williams’ weight. He was listed at 189 pounds at Alabama but weighed in at 179 at the Combine. That could be the result of the inability to train as he rehabs that knee. But we’d like a 6’2 WR to at least be up in that 190-pound range as he gets ready to battle with bigger, stronger NFL CBs.
Ultimately, though, it’s tough to watch Williams’ tape and come away not believing that his speed will be a legitimate weapon at the next level. We’ll see if he can develop into a complete receiver. But, at minimum, he should bring a lofty weekly ceiling with big-play ability on both deep balls and after the catch.