Matt Waldman’s RSP shares its sample NFL Draft scouting report of Miami Dolphins’ training camp sensation WR Preston Williams, a player with the potential to develop into a player in the style of A.J. Green.
Preston Williams, Colorado State (6-4, 211)
Depth of Talent Score: 86.05 = Starter: Starting immediately with a large role and learning on the go.
NFL.com’s draft analyst Lance Zierlein was on the RSP Cast during the fall of 2018 and he mentioned Olabisi Johnson as an under-the-radar receiver he liked after initial views. I had seen Johnson while studying quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels but the player I couldn’t take my eyes off was Williams, a former top recruit at Tennessee whose lack of maturity of the field resulted in some changes to his life and he wound up with the Rams.
Williams looks and plays like A.J. Green. He’s wiry strong, quick, and wins the ball with grace in physical situations. A tale of the tape with Williams and Green also shows some similarities with some of their workout metrics.
Green and Williams are both in the RSP’s Starter Tier for long speed, although Green is on the upper end of the range. The rest of Wiliams’ metrics in this table are in the Starter Tier whereas Green’s are in the Star Tier.
There was a tenor about his Pro Day that suggests Williams expected to deliver elite results. However, the fact that Williams’ style of play and athletic ability on film and in workouts is equivalent of a “Starter Tier A.J. Green” rather than the “All-Pro Version” in Cincinnati still makes him a coveted receiver prospect.
One could argue that Stefon Diggs is the starter version of Odell Beckham, Jr. There will be those who argue that point vociferously but regardless of where you actually stand on this potential debate, the point is that a player who might be a notch or half a notch below a top talent can still be a valuable player.
Williams has that potential. He plays on either side of the formation and delivers as a route runner, rebounder, and ball carrier with flair and toughness befitting of the Green comparison—even if he isn’t as dynamic.
Williams is skilled at separating from the line of scrimmage. He’ll mix and match shoulder fakes and dips, wipes, chops, and swipes with rocker steps and foot-fire variations to get free of press coverage. He also varies his pacing effectively so he’s changing up his release techniques. Once Williams earns separation, he’ll stalk his man.
He had some issues with slips while trying to release from press coverage. He needs to keep his eyes focused on the task at hand and not skip ahead. When he fails to do this during foot-fires, he slips.
Williams doesn’t drop his pads and attack with a downfield intent as often as he should when facing off coverage. On his worst reps, Williams can be too slow off the line and get hung up against contact.
Once into his stem, Williams wins his routes with good manipulations to set up breaks. He baits defender with bends of his stems and head fakes. Once he makes his break on routes back to the quarterback he will work hard to get to the ball.
He has the flexibility to drop his weight into breaks, but he must drop deeper and do it more often. His crossing routes earn good depth against man coverage. When facing zone coverage, Williams settles into open space and makes himself a good target. His speed breaks can be a little tighter on outs and digs.
Similar to players in the A.J. Green-style, Williams is graceful on targets where he must go airborne. He’ll turn through the target and execute a quick pulldown and shield of the defender at the catch point of fades. If he’s facing tight coverage, he’ll take the hit and maintain possession of the football and he’s willing to attack the ball in the Honey-Hole of Cover 2 zone that often leads to him being the meat in a defensive back sandwich. Whether it’s a hard hit or a defender hanging off him, it doesn’t deter Williams’ focus.
He also possesses strong body control, reaching behind his break momentum with arms fully extended to catch not-so-accurate targets. Find Williams at the end line and he can track and snare the ball over his shoulder and land in time to tap the feet inbounds with a defender glued to him.
Williams uses active hands technique to attack the ball and knows when to use high or low positions based on the location of the target. One thing he has to address immediately is the tendency to leave his feet unnecessarily on routes thrown at waist and chest level over the middle. When he leaves his feet, it prevents him from transition upfield as quickly.
While not a burner, Williams is a tough and elusive runner after the catch. He can pull through high and low wraps, bounce off glancing blows to his body, and spin and dip away from angles of pursuit— sometimes on the same play.
Once at full speed, Williams can work past good pursuit angles and use his stiff-arm to ward off reaches. He sees the field well and finds efficient ways to work away from pursuit lanes. While his carriage can be tighter at the elbow, Williams holds the ball high and uses the correct arm to carry it.
He’s a decent blocker with the potential to be even better. He works downfield with a balance of urgency and patience to set up stalk blocks. He’ll also bait defenders into thinking he’s releasing on a route when actually setting up a block.
Once Williams earns position with his hands, he’ll drive the opponent away from the ball. He has the strength to shove opponents to the ground when they aren’t bringing their A-game to the interaction.
Although off-field issues don’t factor in RSP evaluations, the story behind Williams is worth knowing. He’s a former top-tier high school prospect who committed to Tennessee and eventually earned Freshman of the Week honors for his play.
He transferred from Tennessee in 2016 and sat out the entire 2017 season. In September of 2017, Williams earned a suspension for a misdemeanor charge of assault and pled guilty.
According to police reports, Williams had an argument with his girlfriend and when she tried to leave, he physically blocked her path and then held her back from leaving. He also left well over a hundred messages on her cell phone.
The Reporter-Herald ran a story about Williams’ maturation. Here’s an excerpt:
“Apparently, it wasn’t just the coaches that were happy to see Williams redeem himself. He also seemed to have the support of his teammates. ‘I’m very impressed,’ wideout Bisi Johnson said, according to a report from Reporter-Herald. ‘I mean, he turned his whole life around. It was a little sketchy there at first, but he’s definitely figured it out, and we needed him. It’s good to have him on the team.’”
If Williams has matured,— he has the skills to start now as a secondary option and develop into a primary threat.
RSP Boiler Room: Upper Body Mobility And Pass Catching Technique
Pre-NFL Draft Fantasy Advice: Williams should be available in the second round of fantasy drafts— possibly the third—depending on whether he’s a second or third-round pick in the NFL Draft. He’s the type of player that could be a nice value for fantasy players in dire need of tight ends, running backs, and/or quarterbacks and know they can’t wait to get value at the position.
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