Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Weight: 218 lbs.
Bench press: 15 reps
Vertical jump: 32.5 inches
Broad jump: 121.0 inches
2016: 98 REC, 1,361 YDS, 13.9 AVG, 11 TD
2015: 2 REC, 20 YDS, 10.0 AVG, 1 TD
2014: 57 REC, 1,030 YDS, 18.1 AVG, 6 TD
2013: 20 REC, 316 YDS, 15.8 AVG, 3 TD
It’s impossible to avoid drawing parallels between Mike Williams and newly acquired Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. In many ways, they are the same, from nearly identical size/speed measurables, to their style of play.
Williams is a physical receiver who’s at his best when the football is up for grabs. He’ll win jump-ball situations, adjust to underthrown or back-shoulder passes, use his big frame to box out defenders, run into traffic without hesitation and break a tackle to pick up yards after the catch. Williams is dangerous at every level of the field, but especially deep and inside the red zone.
This is the type of receiver who – if he lives up to his potential – can excel in any type of offense.
In the Eagles’ case, the comparison to Jeffery could prove especially tempting. Not only would Williams be paired with his ideal NFL mentor (as far as on-field traits are concerned), but also the coach who helped Jeffery become a star.
Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh has begun to build a reputation for his work with big, dynamic receivers. He held the same position for three seasons with the Chicago Bears, during which time Jeffery went to a Pro Bowl and averaged 5.6 receptions, 82.0 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game. Those numbers projected over a 16-game season work out to 89 receptions, 1,312 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Groh spent 2016 with the Los Angeles Rams, where he arguably did his best work yet – coaxing a career year out of Kenny Britt in his eighth NFL season. Another big, physical wideout, Britt shattered his previous personal bests of 48 receptions in 2014 and 775 yards in 2010 with 68 receptions for 1,002 yards, tacking on 5 touchdowns.
It’s not an especially lengthy body of work, but Groh has proven success molding a specific type of player. From that standpoint, the Eagles wouldn’t have to worry about the development of Williams, who is said to have a good head on his shoulders as well.
One would think he would be a nice fit in Doug Pederson’s west coast offense, too. Again, Williams has no issue with going over the middle and making contested catches on quick slant routes. And while no track star, his deceptive quickness and ability to slip a tackle are a threat to burn defenses on a simple wide receiver screen.
Williams may never be as explosive as Terrell Owens was for the Eagles during the Andy Reid days, but almost nobody is. Even if Williams only catches five slants and screens per game for 10 yards apiece, every sixth reception could be a fade in the end zone or a highlight-reel grab down the field.
The Eagles did have Williams at the NovaCare Complex for an official pre-draft visit, no doubt in part for a health screening. The 22-year-old missed almost all of the 2015 season with a fractured bone in his neck, and while he returned for a monster senior year and went on to win a national championship at Clemson, it’s worth checking into.
If there is any concern for the Eagles, it’s the possibility that Williams and Jeffery in the same offense would be a redundancy. Of course, Jeffery is a free agent again in 2018, so that probably shouldn’t define the front office’s thinking.
Regardless, it’s impossible to have too many do-it-all, No. 1 receivers on the roster. That’s what Jeffery is right now, and that’s what Williams has the potential to become.
The coaching staff and scheme are a fit. The only question left it seems is whether Williams is as talented as his peers.
Other Eagles draft targets at No. 14:
Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
LSU RB Leonard Fournette
Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey