Spotlight - WR Roy Williams, Detroit Lions
Posted 8/25 by Jason Wood and Maurile Tremblay,
Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Jason Wood's Thoughts
Roy Williams more than lived up to the hype as a rookie. The 7th overall pick in the 2004 draft, Williams was supposed to give the Lions a tandem of elite young WRs who would help catapult the Lions passing attack into the upper echelon. But after a broken collarbone sidelined Charles Rogers, Williams instantly became the team's go-to receiver. In 14 games, Williams caught 54 receptions for 817 yards and 8 TDs. Pro rated over a full 16 game season, that equates to:
- 62 receptions
- 934 yards
- 9 TDs
That would put Williams among the most productive rookie WRs in league history.
Much like his Detroit counterpart, Williams came into the league with the complete resume. He has great size (6'2", 212 pounds), superb hands, body positioning, route running and has a penchant for the end zone.
So the sky is the limit for Williams this season, right?
Maybe, maybe not.
Call me crazy, but I think Roy is a little overvalued. According to Antsports, Roy is being drafted in the 4th round of 12-team leagues as the 14th receiver off the board. While I wouldn't be surprised to see his year end totals justify that pick (I currently project him 15th), I'm not sure he's the "can't miss" guy worth using a 4th rounder on.
1) Charles Rogers is healthy -- Until someone can explain to me how a broken collarbone becomes a chronic disability, I see no reason why Rogers won't be as healthy as Roy this year. And Rogers was the 2nd overall pick two years ago, and has all the physical tools Roy possesses. A season ago, the Lions second best receiving option was Az Hakim...this year Rogers should and WILL command far more attention from Harrington/Garcia, in my view.
2) Mike Williams is in the mix -- Mike Williams doesn't appear ready to break into the rotation at the start of the season. But had he been allowed to come out of USC the prior season, some draft pundits had Mike Williams with a HIGHER draft grade than Roy Williams. By mid season, Williams could take touches away from Rogers and Roy.
3) The Lions will run the ball this season -- A careful examination of Steve Mariucci's coaching history shows quite clearly that when he's able to run the ball effectively, his teams win. When they can't run the ball (either because they lack the horses or the defense is too porous), his teams have not been successful. With Kevin Jones looking every bit the franchise runner, I would be surprised to see Detroit be in the top half of the league in passing attempts.
4) Harrington & Garcia are far from inspiring -- I had originally expected Jeff Garcia to supplant Joey Harrington early in the year. After all, he went to three Pro Bowls in this same offense in SF. But, having watched him this preseason and read various camp reports, it's clear that Garcia is a shadow of his former self. That means Harrington's leash is longer, and if he struggles once the games mean something (remember, he looked good in preseason last year too), the alternative is no more palatable.
- Roy has excellent deep speed, in only 12 games started (14 GP), Williams finished tied for 6th in the NFC with 11 catches of 25+ yards
- As a rookie, Williams proved capable of being a go-to receiver despite being blanketed by opposing teams' best cover corners
- He has the rare combination of size, hands and route running necessary to produce at a consistent, elite level
- Jeff Garcia may actually be washed up, meaning Joey Harrington is "the guy" yet again
- Charles Rogers is every bit the receiver Roy is, provided the dreaded "collarbone virus" doesn't re-emerge
- Williams had ankle surgery this offseason; it appears to be a non factor, but worth noting nonetheless
I like Roy Williams, in fact I have him ranked 15th in my current projections and forecast him to go over the 1,000 yard mark. But I've been seeing a lot of folks talk of him as a top 10 WR with limited downside and that's simply not a fair representation of the facts. Rogers is every bit the player Williams is, Mike Williams, Kevin Johnson and Marcus Pollard will each vulture a few catches and TDs, and the team will run more this year with Kevin Jones. Ultimately, I wouldn't pay a 4th round pick for Williams, particularly when I can draft Rogers five rounds later. If you can get Roy at a FAIR PRICE (i.e., in the 5th or 6th round), by all means do so. But be disciplined in your expectations.
Maurile Tremblay's Thoughts
Roy Williams turned in an outstanding 2004 season as a rookie. The Buccaneers’ Michael Clayton finished with better overall numbers, but Roy Williams showed more impressive talent, in my opinion. Williams has fine size, excellent, strength, and very good speed. He is a legitimate deep threat who can adjust to the ball in the air and make the tough catch. He also has good feet near the sideline, and soft hands to pluck the ball out of the air away from his body. He is a good runner after the catch, but will occasionally drop an easy ball when he thinks about running with the ball before he catches it.
Williams still needs to work on getting off the line of scrimmage cleanly, and must get out of his cuts more quickly on intermediate routes. But with his natural athleticism, the sky is the limit on his potential.
As good as Williams can be, however, there are a few concerns to be aware of. First, he suffered an ankle injury last year that required surgery during the offseason. He should be fine, but ankle injuries have a tendency to repeat themselves with some players. Also, in between making spectacular plays, Williams tended to disappear for stretches in certain games last year. He will have to become more consistent to join the top tier of fantasy WRs. And finally, the QB play for the Lions has been poor over the last several years, and there’s no guarantee that it will turn around this year.
- Good size, strong hands, will catch the ball in traffic.
- Deep threat with excellent speed and the ability to adjust when the ball is in the air.
- Is in only his second year and should improve as he gains experience.
- Shares the spotlight with several other very talented pass-catchers in Detroit; there may not be enough balls to go around.
- QB Joey Harrington has not yet become an upper tier QB, and it may never happen.
- Has produced for only one year; many WRs who have impressive rookie seasons go on to have mediocre careers, so Williams’ continued success isn’t guaranteed.
Roy Williams is one of the more physically talented WRs in the NFL, but so are teammates Charles Rogers and Mike Williams. In addition, stud RB Kevin Jones will have the ball in his hands a bunch, so the opportunities for Williams may be limited just because the Lions’ offensive pie will be cut into so many pieces. Williams is expected to be the Lions’ top WR in 2005, but that’s no guarantee. Charles Rogers is supremely talented in his own right, and has played well when he’s been healthy. Rookie Mike Williams also has excellent size and hands and a propensity to score touchdowns, and may vulture receiving opportunities from Williams and Rogers around the goal line. So while I love Roy Williams as a player, I’m not sure I like his team situation all that much, especially if Joey Harrington fails to take a few steps forward this year in his own development. Because of his upside potential, Williams is a nice pick in the middle of the fourth round, but I probably wouldn’t go any higher than that.
Quotations from the Message Board Thread
To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there),
This guy has what it takes to be a major player in the league. The sky is the limit for this guy. If he builds on what he did last year, and the QB position pans out, he could go to the Pro Bowl and finish in the top ten WRs this year. The questions with Roy is can he build on last year? Can his QB actually find him more this year than last? Will there be enough balls to go around if Rogers stays healthy? The answers to these are Yes, Yes and Yes.
QB: I don't care who plays. If Harrington plays all year, then he progressed and beat out the veteran. If he doesn't and Garcia plays and is reunited with his old coach/old system he should be good enough for the talent at WR
Rb: I see no reason why Jones cant get 300 touches this year, along with a WR core getting their touches. When an offense is good and balanced there is enough plays run for the skill positions.
TE: Marcus Pollard is not Gonzo. Plays should be designed to get the ball in the hands of your biggest playmakers, he'll be used to keep defenses honest.
Def: this will be short, there still not very good.
Roy Williams is a talent and could be a #1 on many teams, he will get the biggest share of targets.
Clearly the best of the young group at this point and the #1 WR on the team. He can go deep, go over the middle, make clutch catches and has a flare the Lions have lacked on offense the last few years. He will live up to the hype this year produce top ten numbers this year and become an elite player by 2006.
Roy Williams Projections
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