Thursday night was a crazy one. The Detroit Lions picked a hometown hero in Aidan Hutchinson with the second pick, and then 10 picks later they shocked everyone when they traded up to the 12th pick and selected Alabama receiver Jameson Williams.
Williams is a big get for the Lions. He was at one time considered to be the top receiver in the draft, and if it weren't for an ACL injury in the National Championship game, the Lions likely would not have even had a shot at him, unless they decided to draft him second overall.
There’s some obvious risk when you take a guy who just tore his ACL. There’s no telling at this point when Williams will be able to play for the Lions. According to Williams, he’s ahead of schedule on his recovery and there’s a chance he could be ready to go by the time training camp starts in late July.
What’s Williams’ biggest strength?
“Speed. Nick Saban wanted to add speed to Alabama’s receiving corps this past offseason after both DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle declared for the draft, and that’s exactly what Williams brough to Tuscaloosa. He has other positive traits, including a willingness to do whatever he can to get on the field—cover kickoffs, punts, etc.—but his ability to take the top off of the defense is deadly. When quarterback Bryce Young needed a big play, he looked Williams’ way, and the latter went on to lead the nation in receiving plays of 50-, 60- and 70-plus yards.”
Williams has been considered by some to be the best receiver prospect in the draft, did the Lions get themselves a steal?
“If he’s healthy, I think so. If not for the ACL injury he suffered in the national championship game (less than four months ago), I think he could have been a top 10 pick. Even if he has to wait a little while to make his rookie debut, Williams should contribute right away whenever cleared to play. He didn’t seem happy to be the fourth receiver taken in the first round last night, so I think he’ll have a bit of a chip on his shoulder—in his rehab, when healthy and beyond.”
What are Williams’ weaknesses?
“Nothing major, really. Outside of coming off a significant injury, he’s a little slight of frame at 179 pounds. He showed a willingness to block at Alabama, but he isn’t going to seek out contact. It isn’t necessarily a problem for a guy that is usually running right by defenders, however.”
What receiver in the league would you compare Williams to?
“I see shades of Jerry Jeudy in his game. He’s not as crisp of a route runner as Jeudy, but there are few that can match that ability. Williams is faster than Jeudy, though. As for a non-Alabama guy, I think Will Fuller is a pretty solid comp. Fuller ran a 4.32 at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2016, and had Williams been able to run, I think we could have seen a similar time.”
How quickly should the Lions expect Williams to make an impact?
“As soon as he’s healthy. He was in Tuscaloosa for less than a year and left with the third-most receiving yards and touchdowns in a single season. Williams enrolled last summer and quickly carved out a first-team role, filling a need as a downfield threat. Most teams, at any level, can’t get enough of those guys, so I expect it won’t take long for Williams to make an impact.”