In the days and weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, CardinalsSource will profile 30 draft prospects who could end up making their way to Arizona this offseason.
Player: Mike Williams
Weight: 218 pounds
Arm length: 33 3/8 inches
Hand size: 9 3/8 inches
College stats: 98 receptions, 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2016, two receptions, 20 yards, one touchdown in 2015 (neck injury), 57 receptions, 1,030 yards, six touchdowns in 2014, 20 receptions, 316 yards, three touchdowns in 2013
Strengths: When you turn on the tape on Williams, it's clear one of his best assets is his willingness and ability to compete for the ball in the air. At 6-foot-4, Williams has the size to instantly provide a team with an excellent perimeter target, but it's how he uses that size that makes Williams such a special athlete. When Williams played in the National Championship game against Alabama this year, the Clemson wideout solidified his first round status with an outstanding display that showcased his ability to make adjustments on routes, win 50/50 balls against well-positioned cornerbacks and come up with big plays when his team needed them the most. Despite missing the vast majority of his junior season with a neck injury, Williams came back as a senior and put up the best numbers of his career, thanks in large part to his ability to run the full spectrum of routes. On Williams' early college tape, he looks more like a speedy down-the-field threat than a future No. 1 target, but by the middle of his senior season, he proved that he was a full-service player and ready for the challenge of playing the position in the NFL.
Weaknesses: The biggest knock on Williams --and it's questionable whether this can even be considered a knock-- is that he so often finds himself making tough, contested catches. While there's no doubts about Williams' toughness and ability to compete for the football, it does raise questions about whether he can consistently create separation against NFL-caliber defensive backs. Is Williams fast enough or smooth enough out of his breaks to beat defenders to the spot on quick routes? At his Pro Day, Williams ran a 4.50 40-yard dash and a 4.49 40-yard dash which suggests he's got good enough straight line speed to put those questions to rest. However, the Cardinals typically prefer their receivers to be a bit faster than Williams, so perhaps the team would prioritize a receiver like Washington's John Ross III if that's the case.
Williams' fit: If the Cardinals are looking to find the heir apparent to Larry Fitzgerald, Williams is one of a small handful of receivers who has the potential to develop into a true No. 1 target in this year's class. While Williams doesn't have the same hands or ability to block like Fitzgerald does, honestly, what receiver in the last decade shares those traits? If Williams is on the board when Arizona is on the clock with the 13th overall selection, we believe Williams would be an instant upgrade at the No. 2 wide receiver spot on the depth chart over Michael Floyd, who began the 2016 season in that role for Arizona. Williams should be a more fluid player with a better ability to stretch the field and make defenders miss in space than Floyd was, and he has a relatively similar frame. Additionally, Williams would be a good fit for the Cardinals in 2017 because he complements players like Fitzgerald and John Brown while bringing a different type of skill set to the Cardinals' offense. Is he the perfect match for Arizona and a guarantee to be able to assume the No. 1 role when Fitzgerald moves on? Probably not. But if the Cardinals want a wide receiver early, Williams is a top-of-the-line candidate.