Kiper Jr. Says Duke Could Be Top WR Next Year

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. says that Duke Williams' decision to return to Auburn could be a huge move for him.

Auburn, Ala.--There were plenty of questions asked when Auburn junior wide receiver Duke Williams announced that he was coming back for his senior season with the Tigers, but for NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., seeing Williams back on the Plains for another season is just the thing that could take him to another level for the 2016 draft.

“Duke Williams went back,” Kiper Jr. said. “Duke Williams will be an elite guy, you would think and you would hope, next year.”

In his first season at Auburn after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Williams battled through some late-season injuries to lead the Tigers with 45 catches for 730 yards and five touchdowns. Suspended for Auburn’s bowl game against Wisconsin, Williams did all of his damage in just 10 games while sharing the load with a strong running game and fellow receivers Sammie Coates and Quan Bray.

Next season that won’t be the case as much with Auburn expected to open up the offense with quarterback Jeremy Johnson the favorite to take over for Nick Marshall. Kiper Jr. says he expects big things from Williams in 2015. With things he needs to work on, it could be a rise to the top for the receiver if he improves in some areas according to Kiper Jr.

“It’s the burst coming out of his break, getting separation, consistency, all are things for Duke Williams coming in from the juco ranks,” Kiper Jr. said of areas of improvement needed. “He had a great year opposite Coates, but now he’ll be the guy. He’ll be the main entity.”

That could be the biggest plus for Williams returning next season as he can expect to be targeted a majority of the time in Auburn’s passing game along with fellow senior Ricardo Louis. That extra attention and improvements in his game could mean big things this time next year for Duke.

“Obviously you’re in an offense where they are going to run the ball,” Kiper Jr. said. “Nick Marshall is moving on, but you’ve got the quarterback Johnson who played well and showed promise. I think when you look at Duke Williams he will be the No. 1 guy and next year he’ll go into the season right there at the top. There’s not going to be very many receivers rated ahead, if any rated ahead of Duke Williams going into the season. He’s going to have a very high grade.”

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