The Detroit Lions traded up for Jameson Williams in the NFL draft, and the reason was the vast pro potential the wideout has. Until he lines up during a game, though, it can be tough for fans to envision just what Williams can bring to the mix.
Luckily, former perennial Pro Bowl and All-Pro wide receiver and Lions legend Herman Moore is there to translate things. As a former star wideout in the league, Moore knows what makes players at the position tick, and he also knows what could make Williams a special addition to the team in the present and the future.
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Recently, on Lions Nation Unite, Moore broke down some film of Williams playing in the SEC, and as he showed, the wideout might already have some elite NFL decision-making skills in terms of route running, progression and understanding. As Moore points out, those are key variables for the Lions to remember as they work Williams into their offense.
Already, Moore appreciates the speed of Williams, as he shows a drag route in the video around the 6:10 mark where Williams does a nice job to sense where he needs to be, get the first down and show explosion in the process.
“This one is a simple drag route. It’s a drag route, it’s a drive route, it’s a three-to-five-yard route that comes underneath the linebackers. If they step forward, you go slightly behind the linebackers, but it’s not a very deep route and it’s meant because if you feel there’s going to be blitz or there’s a short play or there may be man coverage, there’s a receiver that can come open underneath and as long as he crosses the vision of the quarterback, the quarterback’s going to be looking here and he’s looking to see if anyone’s going to cross and we saw Williams come from the opposite side of the field as he crosses,” Moore explained.
“He runs this shallow route and this drag route, this underneath drive route. He crosses the quarterback’s vision which gives him the ability to be seen, but if he outruns that or overruns it or he gets there too late, he gets himself out of the progression of that route. Great job by him recognizing it, getting his head turned around and then being able to see that. Also, he’s got to pick up the first down. He’s still got a good five or six yards to go to get the first down marker, and he’s going to understand where that is.”
The trait that Moore appreciates specifically in that clip is Williams’ ability to sense where the first down is and make sure to get to the sticks, something he admits is a difficult thing to learn in the league for young players.
“That’s a tough thing to teach as well, trying to make sure that they understand having that feel, (and) vision but also being able to find where is that first down marker? I love the way he turns immediately after he catches it. You see that burst getting up field,” he said.
In Detroit, the Lions suffered from a lack of big plays as well as situational awareness at wideout in 2021. As Moore shows in this clip, all of that could be solved in a big way with the addition of Williams to the roster. Already, he could be elite at finding the right spots and making responsible plays.
Moore: Williams’ Decision Making Could Set Him Apart
Another reason Williams could be good when he gets to the league? The fact that the wideout has speed to burn, but also knows how to use that speed smartly in order to make plays that stress a defense. In a highlight package around the 3:00 mark, Moore shows how Williams has some elite recognition skills.
“He’s gonna see that there’s coverage here. There’s coverage here, here, here, here, here. There’s all your defensive secondary from the linebacker towards the back part of your secondary now. As he runs, he’s got to run up here and he knows there’s a soft spot up in this area. A fast receiver will often outrun that or overrun that zone because they don’t realize what’s being done. They don’t understand the depth that they need to get and sometimes they rush it because this thing is going to come open pretty quickly.
“When you have a defensive back that’s squatting on you, he’s running full speed. He should be able to break that coverage and get from behind. You’re going to have another receiver bringing himself underneath that’s going to bring some of these other players out of that box which gives him the space in the second part of the secondary. There he is, there’s that part of the zone that I talked about. Look at all of this room that he has to work with, and the reason he does that he has to have patience. He has to do his pre-read and he has to have coverage recognition,” Moore said.
“Young man does a great job and then after he gets it, what do you look for as a player? Where is the escape route? Where do you get free? How do you get to pay dirt, and how do you get the extra yards? Well, it’s because his vision after catching it is to get up field towards the goal line right away. He’s not going to play around with it. He catches the ball on the run. As I run this and stop it look at this You have a defensive back that already has an angle right here, he’s gonna outrun because of his speed that angle.
“That’s a tough thing to do even in the NFL, but in college, you can do that. In the NFL, players are very fast so it’s going to be good to see that he gets north and he gets towards the goal line as quickly as possible and turns up, but he has the breakaway speed.”
According to Moore, that is the reason the Lions made the bold move to nab Williams, given what he brings to the mix in terms of a package.
“That’s why the Lions traded up to get him, because they know the capabilities and just the ability that this young man possesses,” Moore concluded.
Watching the tape with Moore, it’s easy to see why folks are so excited about the potential of Williams in the offense once he gets healthy off his ACL injury. His speed and ability to be slippery and make the right savvy moves is something that seems to be a rare trait with wideouts. Williams seems to have all those tangibles and intangibles together in a rare package.
Williams’ College Stats & Highlights
It might not be a stretch at all to proclaim Williams one of the top players in the NFL draft after watching clips such as this. In college, he showed a knack for speed and the big play.
A big-time transfer from Ohio State, Williams came to the Crimson Tide after 266 yards and 3 touchdowns and set the SEC on fire in 2021. Williams racked up 1,572 yards and 15 scores en route to being one of the top players in college football.
An ACL injury in the National Title game hurt Williams’ chances of being a top-five pick, but there would have been a chance if not for that. The tape shows a speedy player who has afterburners:
Not only is Williams explosive, but according to Moore, a successful wideout in his own right, he might have the right mindset in order to be a complete wideout. This should give fans some extra excitement about his future in the league when the time comes.
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