Derrick Williams Scouting Report

WR Derrick Williams (Penn State) - Round 3, Pick No. 82

It is a Lions fan's instinct to groan when a wide receiver is drafted, especially when other needs exist and the pick is in the third round. That is why the reaction to the Derrick Williams selection was overwhelmingly negative. While the Lions did need a returner, the third round seemed a bit too early to worry about that, especially, as stated, when other needs still existed. Williams can be an impact returner; there's no doubt about that. I'm just worried that there won't be a spot for him at wide receiver. He will play in the slot as a Shaun McDonald type of player, but with some of the depth added at the WR position this offseason, can Williams crack the lineup to make the active roster if he makes the team?

Experts' Opinions

Best traits per Scouts Inc.:

Reaches top speed quickly and fast enough to run by most corners when they don't slow him down at the line. Makes corners pay when they don't give him a healthy cushion.

Developed into one of the leaders on offense and there have been no off-the-field incidents to our knowledge. Shown a willingness to play a number of different positions and willing to do whatever helps teams. Team captain in 2008.

SI.com:

POSITIVES: Athletically gifted prospect with the ability to impact games in a variety of ways. Quickly releases off the line, runs good routes, and gets separation from opponents. Adjusts to the errant throw, extends his hands to make the reception away from his frame, and then immediately transitions from making the reception to running after the catch. Fluid, displays a great burst and plays much faster than his 40 time. Comes back into the clearing to make himself an available target, strong for his size, and uses his frame to shield away defenders. Game-changing return specialist, also picks up positive yardage running reverses.

NEGATIVES: Double catches too many throws on occasion, and does not consistently come away with the difficult reception. Has been moderately productive at Penn State, but never met expectations. Ran poorly at the combine, which has sent up a lot of red flags. [Note by Sean: The poor run at the combine was due to a combination of bronchitis and the flu.]

Mocking the Draft:

Final word: Williams is the kind of player who seems like he’ll be a better pro than college player. Williams never had a great quarterback getting him the ball and Penn State had other quality receivers to throw the ball to. His physical ability may be too much for a team to look past. Williams should immediately be able to contribute returning kicks and playing receiver in the slot.

Videos

Punt return TD against Notre Dame (2007):

2008 highlights:

More:

Outlook for 2009

I don't know if Williams will crack the lineup as a slot receiver, but if he makes the roster and is active for games, chances are he will be the starting punt/kick returner. The best part of Williams' game is his ability on returns, and the Lions have been looking for a solid returner ever since Eddie Drummond left Detroit. Hopefully Williams can be that player and show some ability at wide receiver as well. Also, it wouldn't surprise me if the Lions ran some Wildcat packages with Williams, who ran that formation at Penn State.

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