To say Jameson Williams had a slow start to his NFL career would be an understatement. As planned following selecting him 12th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions let him rehab from a torn ACL for most of his rookie season. His Year 2 progress was quickly derailed, too. He suffered a hamstring injury midway through his first training camp and started the season serving a four-game suspension for gambling on non-NFL games.
When he actually saw the field, the rust was noticeable. The routes were off, the hands were unreliable, and the production wasn’t there at all. Through Williams’ first eight career games, Jared Goff only completed 5-of-21 passes thrown his way (28.8%) for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
But around the midway point of this season, there was a notable shift in Williams’ game. Since Week 7, Williams has played at least 30 snaps in every game, and since Week 10, he’s logged at least half of the team’s offensive snaps. Instead of just running deep, clear-out routes, the Lions are utilizing his entire route tree.
And while the production isn’t exactly first-round worthy yet, the progress is easy to see. Over the last eight games, Williams has caught 18-of-27 targets (66.6%) for 230 yards and a touchdown.
Goff said on Tuesday that he’s now just one of the guys out there.
“He’s worked himself into that role. I trust him on really everything he’s doing now,” Goff said. “He’s done a hell of a job getting himself there. Again, it’s just reps, just time. He’s still a young player. He’s still learning and growing. He just keeps doing this [raising arm up] every week. It’s exciting for me, it’s exciting for our offense.”
Williams has been particularly productive over the last two weeks for the Lions offense. Combined, the second-year receiver has nine catches for 90 yards with five of those catches earning first downs for the Lions. Perhaps most impressive has been Williams’ ability to create extra yards after the catch when it doesn’t seem like there’s anything left to gain.
Jameson Williams with the juke and first down for your timeline this victory Monday pic.twitter.com/x4eKON1oqZ— Woodward Sports Network (@woodwardsports) December 18, 2023
In the moment, this felt like Jameson Williams’ first catch in the Red Zone (non-deep hall edition) of the season but it also felt so fitting for where we are now.— Al Karsten (@bigalfredosauce) December 25, 2023
The evolution of Jameson Williams has been a fun ride the last month. pic.twitter.com/GFZrIl4xa4
The Lions’ offense seems to be back in rhythm over these last two weeks, hanging 42 points on a decent Broncos defense and then becoming just the second team this year to score 30 or more against the Vikings. This week, they’ll face another top-tier defense in the Dallas Cowboys, but with Williams heating up, it’s another weapon amongst the many others (Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta) that opponents will have to account for.