Mike Williams

Eagles draft targets at No. 14: Clemson WR Mike Williams

Eagles draft targets at No. 14: Clemson WR Mike Williams

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 218 lbs.

Bench press: 15 reps
Vertical jump: 32.5 inches
Broad jump: 121.0 inches

2016: 98 REC, 1,361 YDS, 13.9 AVG, 11 TD
2015: 2 REC, 20 YDS, 10.0 AVG, 1 TD
2014: 57 REC, 1,030 YDS, 18.1 AVG, 6 TD
2013: 20 REC, 316 YDS, 15.8 AVG, 3 TD

It’s impossible to avoid drawing parallels between Mike Williams and newly acquired Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. In many ways, they are the same, from nearly identical size/speed measurables, to their style of play.

Williams is a physical receiver who’s at his best when the football is up for grabs. He’ll win jump-ball situations, adjust to underthrown or back-shoulder passes, use his big frame to box out defenders, run into traffic without hesitation and break a tackle to pick up yards after the catch. Williams is dangerous at every level of the field, but especially deep and inside the red zone.

This is the type of receiver who – if he lives up to his potential – can excel in any type of offense.

In the Eagles’ case, the comparison to Jeffery could prove especially tempting. Not only would Williams be paired with his ideal NFL mentor (as far as on-field traits are concerned), but also the coach who helped Jeffery become a star.

Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh has begun to build a reputation for his work with big, dynamic receivers. He held the same position for three seasons with the Chicago Bears, during which time Jeffery went to a Pro Bowl and averaged 5.6 receptions, 82.0 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game. Those numbers projected over a 16-game season work out to 89 receptions, 1,312 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Groh spent 2016 with the Los Angeles Rams, where he arguably did his best work yet – coaxing a career year out of Kenny Britt in his eighth NFL season. Another big, physical wideout, Britt shattered his previous personal bests of 48 receptions in 2014 and 775 yards in 2010 with 68 receptions for 1,002 yards, tacking on 5 touchdowns.

It’s not an especially lengthy body of work, but Groh has proven success molding a specific type of player. From that standpoint, the Eagles wouldn’t have to worry about the development of Williams, who is said to have a good head on his shoulders as well.

One would think he would be a nice fit in Doug Pederson’s west coast offense, too. Again, Williams has no issue with going over the middle and making contested catches on quick slant routes. And while no track star, his deceptive quickness and ability to slip a tackle are a threat to burn defenses on a simple wide receiver screen.

Williams may never be as explosive as Terrell Owens was for the Eagles during the Andy Reid days, but almost nobody is. Even if Williams only catches five slants and screens per game for 10 yards apiece, every sixth reception could be a fade in the end zone or a highlight-reel grab down the field.

The Eagles did have Williams at the NovaCare Complex for an official pre-draft visit, no doubt in part for a health screening. The 22-year-old missed almost all of the 2015 season with a fractured bone in his neck, and while he returned for a monster senior year and went on to win a national championship at Clemson, it’s worth checking into.

If there is any concern for the Eagles, it’s the possibility that Williams and Jeffery in the same offense would be a redundancy. Of course, Jeffery is a free agent again in 2018, so that probably shouldn’t define the front office’s thinking.

Regardless, it’s impossible to have too many do-it-all, No. 1 receivers on the roster. That’s what Jeffery is right now, and that’s what Williams has the potential to become.

The coaching staff and scheme are a fit. The only question left it seems is whether Williams is as talented as his peers.

 

Other Eagles draft targets at No. 14:
Tennessee DE Derek Barnett
Michigan DE Taco Charlton
Ohio State CB Gareon Conley
Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
Western Michigan WR Corey Davis
Alabama LB Reuben Foster
LSU RB Leonard Fournette
Alabama TE O.J. Howard
Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
Washington CB Kevin King
Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
Michigan State DT Malik McDowell
UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley
Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk
Washington WR John Ross
LSU CB Tre'Davious White
Clemson WR Mike Williams

Reports: Eagles hosting a bunch of skill players on pre-draft visits this week

Reports: Eagles hosting a bunch of skill players on pre-draft visits this week

The Eagles are hosting all the top skill players on pre-draft visits. All the skills players. 

OK, maybe not all of them, but at least four of the top skill players in this draft have or will be at the NovaCare complex on Friday: 

RB Dalvin Cook

RB Leonard Fournette

WR Mike Williams

WR Corey Davis

According to CSN's Derrick Gunn, Cook and Fournette were in the building on Thursday and Williams is there on Friday. 

There are four names that probably have Eagles fans salivating. 

Each team is allotted 30 pre-draft visits leading up to April's draft. While these visits should be taken with a grain of salt -- there are many reasons a team might want to host specific players -- they're at least worth noting. 

The Eagles have the 14th pick in the draft. It's possible any of the four players at the facility on Friday could be options in the first round. 

Eagles have or will meet with top 3 WRs at NFL combine

Eagles have or will meet with top 3 WRs at NFL combine

INDIANAPOLIS -- It should come as no surprise that the Eagles have or will formally meet with the top three wide receivers at the combine. 

They desperately need to get Carson Wentz some weapons. 

Despite Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson's giving answers this week saying the Eagles are just looking to improve at all positions, they know they need a No. 1 receiver in a bad way.

With the No. 14 pick (thanks to the coin flip), there are really just three wide receiver options: Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis and Washington's John Ross.

"I think the Eagles have to figure out what their order of preference is, what kind of style they want," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said earlier this week on a conference call. "But they've got to be looking hard at all three of those guys and know up front if one or two or all three of them are available, who they're going to take."

Ross said the Eagles were on his schedule of teams to meet with. Davis' formal interview with the Eagles was scheduled for Friday night. And Williams on Friday afternoon said he already had a "great" formal interview with the Eagles, in which he got a chance to talk with new receivers coach Mike Groh. 

While it's true that most teams talk to just about every prospect in some capacity, they don't get the opportunity to sit down with them all. There are 330 prospects at this year's draft. NFL teams are allowed 60 formal meetings at 15 minutes in length.

Williams is probably the most well-known prospect of the three after playing at Clemson and helping the Tigers win a national championship this season. Williams is a big, strong receiver, at 6-3, 225 pounds. He's not a burner like Ross, but has decent speed and the ability to dominate 50-50 balls. Williams won't run the 40 at the combine, instead opting to do it at his pro day on March 16.

It's very possible that Williams' 40 time might turn off some teams, but on Friday he stressed the importance of route running over training for a straight-line run.

"Jerry Rice didn't run a fast time," Williams said. "Antonio Brown didn't run a fast time. He's the highest-paid receiver in the league right now. It's all just about playing football when you look at it at the end of the day.

"I'm a big, physical receiver. I can go get the deep ball. I can block on the edge. I just do it all in one."

Davis won't be running the 40 at the combine either. In fact, Mayock's No. 1-ranked receiver is still healing from a high ankle sprain and subsequent surgery, so he won't participate in any on-field activities. Davis will do the bench press at the Western Michigan pro day on March 15, but is planning to hold a private pro day in April when he expects his ankle to be fully healed.  

While Davis is probably the most complete receiver of the three, the biggest question about him is the level of competition he faced in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).

"But I feel like I can play with the best of them," Davis said. "My confidence is up there and I'm not afraid to go against anyone."

What separates Davis from the other receivers in this class?

"I would say a big thing that separates me from them is my work ethic," he answered. "You can ask any one of my coaches or trainers, that's something that sets me apart from anyone in the country. I always put in extra work and that's probably because I have that chip on my shoulder. I work like I'm the worst receiver in the draft, but my confidence is up there and I know that I'm that top guy."

It's not hard to figure out what separates Ross from the rest of the receivers in the 2017 class. He's fast. Really fast.

While Ross (5-11, 190) looked about half the size of Williams as he walked to the podium in the Indiana Convention Center, he can flat out fly. He said he expects to run a sub-4.3 in the 40 on Saturday.

Ross is from Long Beach, California, which has allowed him to forge a relationship with DeSean Jackson, who is a similar stretch-the-field type player. If Ross ends up having that type of career, he's going to make one team very happy.

"Definitely the speed," Ross said. "I know Mike (Williams) can also be a deep threat, but he's also a big guy. Corey Davis is a complete guy also. I just think I'm faster than those guys and I think that's what shows up more in our three films."