The NFL has been a league desperate for finding the "next great". The NFL Draft is like Christmas for NFL fans, unwrapping a present that may or may not come as advertised.
Enter Clemson wide receiver, Mike Williams. Clemson has been known recently as "wide receiver university", breeding such talents as Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and Martavis Bryant. In 2016, Williams finished the year with 98 catches, 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns. So, how good was Williams this past year? When you are looking for a player that has the height/weight/speed desire that you look for, and has the catch radius that Mike has shown to have, chances are, you are a pretty good wide receiver.
When watching the tape, the first thing that sticks out on Williams is his catch radius. DeShaun Watson, potentially the top QB in the 2017 NFL Draft, has proved time and time again in his confidence and trust in Mike to where he lobs the ball up to him for Mike to make a play.
Second, is Mike Williams ability to go up and get the ball. His ability to anticipate throws and hang in the air to make the play is almost unnatural. Mike is a freak athletically, while I disagree with looking at numbers at the NFL Combine for player evaluations, I am positive that Mike will open some eyes.
Lastly, Mike Williams strength goes without saying, he is extremely physical and won't go down without a fight. Listed at 6-3 and 224, he looks like a tight end with the skill set of a wide receiver. His ability to body smaller corner backs is very reminiscent of players such as Brandon Marshall, Mike Evans, or even Alshon Jeffery.
Clemson's head coach, Dabo Swinney offered his own analysis on Mike Williams;
"I think he’s the most complete (receiver) that we’ve had coming out. Of course, he’s (been) here four years, too. But I think he’s the most complete guy that we’ve had. He’s got similar attributes. (Hopkins) was still developing physically, still developing as a receiver. Obviously, he’s a great player. All those guys are first-round picks. But I think Mike is the biggest challenge (for defenses) of all of them, because of his combination — he’s 225 pounds, and can run, and change direction. He can sink his hips, he’s got (Hopkins’) ball skills. He’s incredibly intelligent. He’s passionate about the ball, about his technique, and the discipline of route-running, like Sammy was. He’s a load. He’s going to be a great, great, great pro."
I've seen player comparisons surrounding Mike, and it's very hard to pin point one wide receiver he is most like. Often times, people compare him to Bears, free agent to be, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Alshon does demonstrate great concentration with the ball in the air, has a great catch radius and makes special plays. However, Mike Williams offers some things that Alshon doesn't. Mike Williams has the ability to create separation from defenders, a bit more of a refined route runner and shows strength in areas Alshon doesn't. It leads to the question, "why not just sign Alshon Jeffery?" Jeffery will be 27 years old next month and will be entering free agency expecting big money. While you know what you get with Jeffery, with Mike Williams, the ceiling is extremely high and has the ability to grow with the 49ers head coach to be, Kyle Shanahan.
Mike Williams should be a special player in the league, it wouldn't surprise me if he is taken in the top ten come April.