Last April, the 2005 draft class of first-round wide receivers appeared to be one of the greatest ever. Highlighted by Braylon Edwards, Mike Williams, Troy Williamson and Mark Clayton, the catching class of 2005 appeared to be on the verge of immediate greatness.
After further review, the needle on the meter for the rookie receiving class of 2005 leans more toward ho-hum than highlights. Heading into the final weekend of the regular season there was no rookie receiver who even came close to the phenomenal initials years had by the Arizona Cardinals rookies in 2003 and 2004.
In Boldin's rookie season of 2003, he lit up the league and the record books while racking up 101 catches for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns. A year later, rookie Larry Fitzgerald made 58 catches for 780 yards and eight touchdowns. No member of the 2005 class comes close to that type of output.
Williamson, drafted by the Vikings with the seventh overall pick, enters this week with 22 catches for 360 yards and two touchdowns. His production is similar to his entire fellow rookie first-round class.
Vikings fans aren't surprised at Williamson's relatively conservative numbers considering he was rarely the primary or secondary receiver in the Vikings offense. In fact, Williamson was inactive for back-to-back games late in the season against Cleveland, then at Detroit.
But Williamson says he isn't down about his first season in Minnesota. "Not frustrating, but more of a learning experience," Williamson said. "I've learned a lot of stuff. And now I have to adjust to it. I've learned a lot all season from the quarterbacks and even the (defensive backs)."
With the Vikings out of the playoffs, head coach Mike Tice said earlier this week that some of the team's younger players will be beneficiaries of more playing time Sunday against Chicago. Williamson is one of those players.
"Of course Troy will have an increased role this week. He deserves it," Tice said. "I would like to see what Troy can do a little bit more with a more increased role myself."
Williamson is happy to hear the news. Even though his playing time was limited this season, he still believes he can be a starter in the NFL.
"I feel like I'm that type of guy," Williamson said. "It depends upon the opportunities I get, and I have to make due with what I get. I try not to let frustration get in the way. I try to stay focused."
That's what makes Sunday rewarding. After a somewhat quiet rookie season, Williamson hopes to make big plays against the Bears.
"It's an opportunity I've been waiting for and I'm going to make the best of it," Williamson said. "I'm going to go out and work hard this week and do what I have to do and hopefully everything will come out alright."
Williamson was asked what fans should expect from his increased role Sunday.
"A deep ball. … You never know. Anything's liable to happen," Williamson said. "It's a good opportunity to show people what I can do."