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Raiders Draft: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama scouting report

A deep threat who should be available at No. 22

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl Classic-Cincinnati at Alabama
Jameson Williams
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama has become a breeding ground for first-round wide receivers in the NFL Draft over the last few years. The Las Vegas Raiders have their share of Bama products on the roster and Jameson Williams could soon be another one, as his speed is something the Raiders offense was missing in the second half of last season.

WR | Alabama | 6’1.5” and 179 pounds | St. Louis, MO | March 26th, 2001 (20.9)

Overview:

Jameson Williams originally went to Ohio State as a four-star recruit and the No. 14 wide receiver in the country for the 2019 class, per 247 Sports. With the Buckeyes, he was a reserve receiver and special teams player as a true freshman before earning a starting spot in year two. However, he served as the team’s third wideout behind fellow projected first-rounders Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, so Williams only managed to catch 15 passes for 266 and three touchdowns in Columbus.

Because of the competition for the ball, the former Buckeye entered the transfer portal and finished his college career at Alabama. That proved to be a smart decision as he accumulated 78 catches for 1,561 yards and 15 touchdowns, primarily as an outside receiver and deep threat for the Crimson Tide.

Strengths:

  • Against press coverage, he attacks leverage to give himself a two-way go, shows the quickness to develop a crossover release down the line and has active hands
  • Dips his shoulder to help avoid contact from underneath zone defenders in the five-yard window
  • Good acceleration off the line of scrimmage to eat cushion versus off coverage and he also varies the speed of his release to catch defensive backs on their heels
  • On vertical routes, he attacks leverage, has solid head/shoulder fakes and rocker steps to help create separation and stacks cornerbacks after passing them
  • When running posts, he has good explosion out of the cut to maximize his separation
  • His ability to attack leverage at the line of scrimmage and solid quickness allows him to get open on slant routes
  • He’s a very smart receiver overall, recognizing holes versus zone, sight adjusting to read coverages and find open grass, and he displays situational awareness to move the chains on third down
  • Keeps his shoulders down and works back to the quarterback on curls
  • More than enough speed to win on drag routes and he puts pressures on defensive backs to the point where they start panicking and grabbing onto him to draw pass interference penalties
  • Works to find open grass and give his quarterback three levels to throw to on scramble drills
  • Opponents were forced to honor his speed in college with bracket coverages or safety help, and he does a good job of coming off the line hard to open things up underneath for other receivers
  • He tracks the ball well and has the body control to put himself if the optimal position to make a catch on deep passes
  • On timing throws, he snaps his head around and locates the ball quickly
  • Has no problems digging out the low balls and making shortstop-like catches
  • When running a curl, he uses the stem phase of the route to see where the defenders will be so that he knows where to turn after the catch, even with his back to the defense
  • Impressive vision and speed to find lanes after the catch with decent elusiveness to make some defensive backs miss in the open field
  • Keeps his feet moving through contact with the ball in his hands, and he has the balance to run through arm tackles from linebackers
  • Pretty tough after the catch, he not afraid to lower his shoulder and run over defensive backs, and he won’t go down easy, fighting for extra yards after contact
  • Solid effort as a run blocker, he’ll do his part to stay in front of defenders when he’s blocking on the play side.

Areas of Improvement:

  • Doesn’t buzz his feet when trying to foot fire release against press coverage, he just tries to sell it with head/shoulder fakes and it almost looks like he’s just going through the motions
  • Could add some ankle flexibility to help sell the first direction and really hone in his crossover release
  • On 90-degree routes, he takes very rounded cuts and lacks suddenness, even when using a speed cut, to create separation on ins and outs at the next level
  • He struggles to stop after reaching full speed when running curl routes, often taking about four to five steps and/or stumbling while making the turn
  • Change of direction issues also make it difficult for him to win on/execute double moves
  • Has a habit of sticking his arm up for the ball on deep routes when he thinks he’s open, slowing him down and is something that could frustrate NFL quarterbacks
  • He’s a body catcher and doesn't have natural hands, leading to drops on throws that are away from his torso. He also won’t bail out the quarterback on inaccurate passes — but still catchable — that are in front or behind him and above his waist
  • Can’t expect him to do much more than stay in front of defenders as a run blocker, he lacks the strength and physicality to widen rushing lanes
University of Georgia vs University of Alabama, 2021 SEC Championship
Jameson Williams
Set Number: X163878 TK1

Injuries:

  • 2021: Torn ACL (missed 1/2 National Championship, offseason surgery)

Projection:

NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board rank: 18th, 1st round

Williams is arguably the best deep threat in this year’s class and probably would have one of, if not the fastest time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Unfortunately, a torn ACL will rob him of an opportunity of proving the latter and could impact his draft stock, especially since the injury happened in mid-January so he won’t get a full offseason as a rookie.

Personally, I have a hard time putting Williams in the top or “tier one” category with some of the other receivers in this class for a couple of reasons. One, speed was a huge part of his game and we don’t know how that will be impacted by his knee injury. And two, when he played with two other top wideouts in this year’s class he barely got the ball.

I’d like to give him the cop-out of there were just too many mouths to feed with Wilson, Olave and Jeremy Ruckert also on the field. But I’m having a hard time buying that excuse when Jaxon Smith-Njigba led the team with 1,259 receiving yards when those three were in the lineup this past season.

What do we need to know?

What does his speed look like post knee surgery? As referenced above, being able to outrun defenders is the Alabama product’s biggest calling card right now but a leg injury could diminish that competitive advantage. While yes, modern medicine has made it so that a torn ACL isn’t as devastating of an injury as it used to be, there is still some doubt or concern that a player might lose a step post-op. If for some reason Williams can’t get back to where he was, we could be talking about a very different type of receiver.

Fit with the Raiders:

There’s no doubt that Williams can fill Las Vegas’ need for a deep threat, but I keep going back to what I brought up in the ‘projection’ section. Olave is a similar type of wideout and when the two played together, Olave basically took the ball out of Williams’ hands and is the better all-around receiver to me.

Now, if the former isn’t available with pick No. 22, then the latter is back on the table as an option for the Silver and Black. However, I would circle back to my reservations about his recent injury in that situation and the Raiders have other positions to address as well. Ultimately, if Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler are looking for a deep threat, I think they’d be better off waiting and seeing who drops to the second round or later than taking Williams in the first.

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