2004 NFL Draft: Mike Williams big day

Only on rare occasions, does a single workout by one individual draw the interest of the football world and garner the watchful eye of the entire scouting community. Yet today at the University of South Florida will be one of those occasions, as all will be focused on sophomore receiver Mike Williams.

An All-American from USC, Mike Williams was a record setting pass catcher for the Trojans last season during their march to a share of the National Title. His 13 game statistics read like that of an NFL Pro-Bowler: 95-receptions for 1,314 receiving yards along with 17 touchdowns, a USC single season record.

No flash in the pan, Williams made an impact the moment he put on a Trojan uniform totaling 81-receptions with 1265 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2002.

Williams chose to leave the college ranks for a chance at the big time after the NFL allowed true sophomores to enter the draft when Maurice Clarrett won that right in a New York court of law.

A big, dominant pass catcher, Williams looks like a man amongst boys on the field. Physical beating down opponents, he is a quarterbacks best friend on third down or in the red zone. Williams looks effortless when making the difficult catch in a crowd or grabbing the pass from the air with defenders draped on him.

One looks at Williams's game with awe yet several questions still need to be answered.

His six-foot five-inch frame carries more than 230-pounds, and that has many thinking his best pro-position might in fact be tight end and not receiver.

Coincidentally a coach from a rival Pac 10 School likened Williams's game to that of Baltimore Ravens star Todd Heap. "Whichever team draft's Williams will use him in a similar fashion the way the Ravens implement Heap; line him up in the slot then send him over the middle."

And while there's no doubt in this coach's mind Williams will be a productive NFL pass catcher, whether Williams possesses the speed and quickness to line-up out on the flanks as a receiver is debatable to him.

This brings us to today.

Williams will go through his own individual combine workout for scouts and NFL coaches on hand in Tampa. He will be officially measured, weighed and then perform in both the vertical and broad jumps. And while receivers are not required to participate in the bench press, there has been some thought of asking the big bodied wide out to push up the 225-pound bar as many times as he can.

After that everyone will venture out to the track for the most important part of the day, William's running of the forty-yard dash.

How critical is this? A difference of two-tenths of a second could mean as many as 12 draft slots for Williams and millions of dollars.

There is a thinking that Williams could be a top three selection in the draft if he runs 4.50-seconds or better, even though most think that is not realistic. A person affiliated with the USC program told us 4.65-seconds is the magic number for Williams. Others think it is unlikely he will break the 4.70 barrier. Either of those times will push Williams down into the middle part of round one.

And though he'll take part in the shuttle runs and participate in a pass catching workout to end the day's events, it will be the 40-yard dash time on the stopwatches held by scouts that will tell the final tale of where Mike Williams will be selected on April 24.

How have others stacked up under this pressure? Not too good, Terrell Suggs faltered last April under similar conditions, as did Ricky Williams in 1999. Each saw their draft stock tumble. Williams hopes to change that trend today.

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