I spoke today with sources in Baltimore regarding new Browns receiver Demetrius Williams, who spent the first five years of his career playing for the Ravens. While the pick-up may seem like the latest in a string of scrap-heap signings at the position for the Browns, people who have spoken to TheOBR give the move a thumbs-up.
Williams was originally selected by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2006 draft, which was considered a minor steal at the time, given that Williams was being touted as a first-day pick by many analysts. Browns fans became familiar with Williams that season, as his touchdown reception locked up a win against Cleveland.
Unfortunately, this may have been the high point of his career. Williams' production has declined every season since his rookie campaign, where he caught 22 passes for 396 yards. His receptions and yards have declined every single year, to the point where the Ravens cut him prior to the 2010 campaign. Williams has been on a number of tryouts, but recently changed representation to the same agent who looks after Browns safety T.J. Ward, who is like Williams an Oregon alum.
We're told that Williams is a solid route-runner with good hands, and that he would immediately be one of the better route-runners in the Browns WR corps. While Williams does not have burner speed, he is a long-striding receiver who can get open at the NFL level. In Baltimore, Ozzie Newsome was consistently a William advocate, and praised his athleticism. He has good height (6'2") and has added a lot of upper body muscle in recent years. Williams typically looks good in practice and stood out in Baltimore during 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 practice sessions.
Williams' issue in Baltimore was durability. He has had a series of injury issues, including a tight hamstring that has kept him out of practice a great deal. A lack of ability to stay healthy resulted in the Ravens looking at alternatives to WIlliams, and gradually adding players like Anquan Boldin, TJ Houshmanzadeh and Donte Stallworth (also an injury-plagued pass catcher).The Ravens simply did not have room for Williams on the roster this year after adding Boldin and Houshmanzadeh.
?While Williams is a good practice player who takes his job seriously, he can come off as laid back at times. Along with his injury history, Williams did not wind up being a favorite of Ravens OC Cam Cameron.
Being unemployed since being cut by the Ravens has undoubtedly been a motivating experience for Williams, and what he gets in Cleveland is opportunity. He's in a situation where he was replaced in one town, and comes to another where the fresh start may be exactly what he needs, particularly with the Browns issues at wide receiver. Since he's a good practice player, and is big enough to be a serviceable blocker, Williams stands a chance to make a contribution. His biggest obstacle may be the rise of Carlton Mitchell as a Mangini favorite, as Mitchell has been recognized by Mangini as another wide receiver who is working his way into opportunities.