By Dylan MacKinnon
We all hoped the Eagles would add a veteran WR this offseason. It has not happened. They missed out on a few free agents, and a gambling scandal ruined their attempt to trade for Calvin Ridley. With that, they find themselves in a situation where they might take a WR in the first round for a 3rd straight year. We have looked at names like Treylon Burks, Chris Olave, and Drake London so far. But the final name at WR we will profile before the draft is perhaps the one most often attached to the Eagles, Jameson Williams. Is the speedy Alabama Wide Out a fit for Philadelphia? Let’s get to know him a bit better.
Track Meet Speed
Jameson Williams is fast. Crazy fast. We don’t have an official 40 time on record since he is still recovering from a torn ACL, but he allegedly ran a 4.39 while at Alabama. What we do have is something better than a 40 time. Teams now use GPS technology to track a player’s actual speed in practice and in games. And Jameson Williams’ hit speeds Alabama’s former Director of Sports Science Matt Rhea has not seen tracked before. Mind you Matt Rhea worked with the likes of Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle at Alabama.
With how fast he is, you won’t be surprised to hear he was a 3-time State Champion in High School in the 300 Meter Hurdle and broke a Missouri record time previously held by Ezekiel Elliot. His time in the 100 meters was just .01 seconds off that of Henry Ruggs in High School.
And that speed equaled production, at least after he transferred to Alabama and got a chance to start. This past year he had 79 catches for 1572 yards, and 15tds, while averaging 19.9 yards per catch. He set a new Bama record with 4 TDs of 75 yards or more. Also he is also the only Bama player to ever return two kickoffs for a TD in a single game. In November he torched the 2nd ranked Arkansas Pass defense for 190 receiving yards. That Arkansas defense went into that game averaging 197 passing yards allowed per game. Williams is one of only three players in Alabama history to gain 1500 yards in a season, the others being Devonta Smith and Amari Cooper.
“Jameson’s a track runner. I think if he wanted to go to the Olympics and focus on that, he could. So Georgia, ‘Bama, everybody was saying ‘Hey, we have receivers.’ Let’s not get it twisted. But at the same time, with the speed that he has and some of the things that they do, they just think they can find different ways to bring his talent out and then also stretch the field to help the (receivers) out as well.”-Williams High School Coach Brandon Gregory told AL.com
But Williams is more than just a speedy WR. Plenty of fast guys have found themselves lost in the NFL because running fast is all they can do. He also moves well. Williams gets in and out of his cuts without slowing down. He also possesses good body control, allowing him to make great mid-air adjustments to get up and attack the ball. Additionally, his length gives him an excellent catch radius. He has all the tools a deep-threat WR needs to make it in the NFL.
Jameson Williams is a big play waiting to happen 💥 pic.twitter.com/bugmJ6yztq— PFF (@PFF) March 11, 2022
Areas of Concern
There are some concerns about Jameson Williams though. The chief one is the ACL injury he suffered in the championship game. Modern medicine has made ACL recovery much easier. Just last year we saw Landon Dickerson recover from an ACL in the Championship game in time to play week 2, and went on to look pretty damn good all year. The timetable for Williams is unclear. People thought it would take Dickerson longer than he did to recover. So it is very possible Williams won’t have to miss much time. But the injury is certainly something any team drafting him will have to consider.
Another concern is that as productive as he was this year, it is the only productive year he had in 3 years of College. In his first two years he was buried on the Ohio State depth chart. That he transferred to a premier program with a history of great WRs like Bama, and then produced at a historic pace, is a plus in his favor. But still, the fact it is just one year is something to think about. I’d be more worried if it had been a less prestigious program in a softer conference he transferred to. But the fact it is Bama, and it was SEC defenses he torched, makes me far less concerned.
In terms of his actual game, his hands need to improve. Too often he catches with his chest and not his hands. That leads to frustrating drops. He can make catches with his hands. We have seen him do it. But he needs to trust his hands more, and stop finishing catches with his chest. He also needs to learn to hold the ball more securely. Williams fumbled it twice this past season because he was too loose with the ball and had it swatted out of his hands.
The final concern is his small frame. Not in the sense of if he will be able to compete with NFL Corners. More so if it will lead to him being more injury-prone. You are going to take a lot of hits as an NFL WR, and some wonder if his body can hold up to that. We have seen other slight WRs do so, but we have also seen slimmer guys career’s derailed by injuries.
Wants to Compete
Besides his speed, the next thing you will hear people praise Jameson Williams for is his competitiveness. You will never see the true 60-minute men, who play every snap of a game ever again. It just isn’t reasonable with how physical the game is now. But Williams came as close as you can feasibly still get at Alabama. Not only was he the team’s no 1 Wideout, but he also returned kicks, and served as a gunner on Punt Returns. He played 279 special teams snaps. How many star players agree to be a gunner on Punts? Usually, that’s reserved for guys deep down the depth chart. He chooses to do it despite being among the past WRs in the nation.
That type of attitude, and competitiveness, draws heaps of praise from his team and coaches. Nick Saban said this after a game where Williams returned 2 kicks for a TD.
“He’s a hard worker, he’s a great competitor. He always wants to play on special teams, he wants to do as much as he can to help the team. I call guys like him, you’ve heard the term before, he’s a dog you know he loves playing.” -Nick Saban
“Me, my dad, my brothers, we competed with everything we did. Even my sister competed with us. We always wanted to be first, first one up the steps, first one in a workout. As we started playing sports we just branched off into our different age groups but we always still wanted to be first. We just had that mentality to be first. So I guess my competitiveness was built as a kid and it just came with me all the way to this day.”- Jameson Williams
Whether or not Williams will have the talent to be a star in the NFL is unclear. But one thing is for certain. He is the type of guy who will give it his all. If it doesn’t work out, it won’t be for lack of effort.
What Draft Experts Say
“Williams was born into a track family and shows elite speed in his routes and with the ball in his hands (responsible for 10 of Alabama’s 11 longest plays in 2021). He might not be a natural hands-catcher, but he has outstanding tracking skills and can flip his hips with balance to make easy adjustments on the football. Overall, Williams is rehabbing a torn ACL, but if healthy, he has the field-stretching speed and ball instincts to be a big-play weapon. He projects as an NFL starter with a chance to be special in a downfield passing offense.”
“Williams is a tall, lean and explosive wideout. Everything he does on the field is sudden and fast. He explodes off the line in his release; just when you think he’s reached top speed, he taps into a gear that very few possess. He turns quick-hitters into long touchdowns and climbs on top of coverage in every game viewed. He is at his best on runaway routes, but flashes the ability to efficiently get in and out of breaks. His hands are inconsistent, though. He lets too many balls get into his body and that results in drops. After the catch, Williams destroys pursuit angles with his speed. His production as a gunner on the punt team speaks to his competitiveness. He suffered a torn ACL in the College Football Playoff National Championship, but once healthy, Williams could emerge as one of the premier deep threats in the NFL.”