Clemson Wide Receiver Mike Williams has been a popular mock draft pick for the Tennessee Titans at fifth overall. But is he worth it there?
If you’ve been reading any mock drafts this offseason, then you’ll have noticed that Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams is frequently the pick for the Tennessee Titans at No. 5 overall. Wiliams had a tremendous final season for the Tigers, accumulating 1,361 yards on 98 catches, while 11 went for a touchdown. Williams finished off his Clemson career with a National Championship win over Alabama, contributing eight catches, 94 yards and a touchdown in the most important game of his career. Williams made several key grabs in the fourth quarter of that game.
When considering all of that, as well as his great sophomore season before a neck injury cut his junior year very short, then fifth overall doesn’t seem that far-fetched; especially for a Titans team that could very much use a No. 1 receiver. But if you delve deeper into Williams and into this draft, then the idea of picking him at No. 5 overall begins to get a bit murky. Our own Will Lomas has done a scouting report on Williams, which doesn’t have him as a first round option. While I think a bit more highly of him than Will, Williams isn’t the transcendental talent that many fans believe he is.
Williams is not fast. He is not quick. What he is, is a big-bodied, ball-snatching, possession receiver that can erase inaccuracy. That’s essential for an NFL offense, but would you take a more sure-handed Kelvin Benjamin at No. 5 overall? What about a slightly taller Michael Crabtree? I’ve seen people comp Williams to Dez Bryant, but I don’t see that at all. Dez is explosive before and after the catch, and can house one from anywhere on the field. Williams simply doesn’t have that type of explosion. In fact, Western Michigan’s Corey Davis (who could be an option at No. 18) is a much better comp for Bryant when considering his after the catch ability.
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What this offense was missing last season, granted it was great anyway, was a quick, dynamic receiver. Kendall Wright was that piece for one or two times a game, if we were lucky. When Wright created those explosive plays, the Titans offense went off. His two long touchdowns of the year came against the Jaguars and the Browns, in two games where the Titans put up 36 and 28 points, respectively. He also had a 48 yard reception against the Chargers, a game where the Titans put up 35 points. It was clear in many of the other games that those explosive plays were missing.
If you’re drafting a wide receiver at No. 5, then you need the type of dynamism that a player like Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr., or Julio Jones can provide. You’re not getting that with Williams, and if you take him at No. 5, then you’re also passing on elite defensive talent like Jamal Adams, Reuben Foster, Malik Hooker, and others. Would I take Williams at No. 18? Yes, probably. That value there is quite alright. But given that this is a rather deep draft for wide receivers, that may not even be worth it.
I know we shouldn’t take too much stock in Senior Bowl practices, but Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp and East Carolina’s Zay Jones have been outstanding so far. Their practice performances have translated from their incredible production throughout their college careers. And if there’s one thing that Jon Robinson has shown to value a lot in prospects, it’s college production. I’m not sure if Kupp or Jones will make it to the third round, but they might (might have to trade into late second round). The value there makes much more sense than Williams at No. 5, and I bet J Rob is thinking the same way after watching both of them at the Senior Bowl.