Damian Williams, WR, USC
Damian Williams seems to be a great fit for the Patriots...and they have been pursuing him more heavily than any other player in the draft class. // Image courtesy of trojanempire.wordpress.com.
Who is the most infuriating wide receiver in the NFL to defend? Some may say Randy Moss because of his athletic prowess. Others may point to Steve Smith, Brandon Marshall or Larry Fitzgerald. Teams that do not know the concept of playing a deep safety would probably say Vincent Jackson. However, for my money, itís Colts catchman Reggie Wayne. He is just so consistent. Every single time the ball is thrown his way, he makes a play. Sure, he has one of the best quarterbacks of all time (not THE BEST, one of the best) pitching him the pigskin every play, but he has still shown a propensity to make big plays and be a reliable number one option. He was targeted seventh most in the NFL last year (Manning threw it his way 146 times) and only dropped three balls, which is pretty darn impressive. He also averaged 13 yards per catch and had ten touchdowns. He was, by my wide receiver metric, the fifth best wide receiver in football last year and that was with a former sixth round pick and Austin Collie getting the snaps alongside him. He should be even better this year now that they have garnered some respect.
So, why do I mention Wayne? I do this because Damian Williams is a carbon copy, and the Patriots have been pursuing him like a bloodhound on a scent for months.
Williams would be a perfect fit in the Patriotsí offense. He would serve as a first-down grabbing possession component to Randy Moss and would force safeties to play a little farther up, opening the playbook for deep passes and short screens alike. His presence would assure that, at any given time, Brady would have three solid options to throw the ball to (four once Welker gets back, five if Tate is completely healed.) Williams may be the key to reenergizing the Patriots offense which, at times, looked complacent last season.
The Patriots have been doggedly pursuing Williams. They interviewed him privately at the NFL Combine, attended the USC Pro Day to watch him workout again, brought him in to Foxboro and even made a miscellaneous visit besides all the on-record meetings. They seem to like him, and he fits the Patriots mold; a guy with great hands and route-running ability who can also create a little bit after the catch.
If Williams is around in the early second, I expect the Patriots to jump on him. If he is taken by another team before the Patriots can pounce, I think Mardy Gilyard could be another option at the receiver position. Still, I think Williams is the number one choice in Foxboro, and the whole situation smells like the Butler love from last draft rather than an elaborate smokescreen.