Patriots Projected to Draft Player With Tyreek Hill ‘Play Speed’

Getty Jameson Williams

The Miami Dolphins‘ newly acquired Tyreek Hill is the kind of player who changes the way defenses can defend his team. Could the New England Patriots be on the cusp of adding a player with a similar skill set?

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has the Patriots pegged to select Alabama Crimson Tide star Jameson Williams with the No. 21 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

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Why Mel Kiper Jr. Likes Jameson Williams to the New England Patriots

“I projected Williams here in my debut mock in mid-January, and it is a nice fit,” Kiper wrote. “Williams, who tore his ACL in the national title game, had a tremendous season for the Crimson Tide, with 1,572 yards and 15 scores. He said at the combine that he’s ahead of his schedule in his recovery, but it’s possible he misses a chunk of the season while rehabbing. New England could afford to wait for a receiver with true No. 1 upside who could be a star for years to come. And we know Belichick has a history of taking Alabama stars.”

There is no questioning Williams’ potential, but Patriots fans might be worried about their team drafting a player who tore his ACL in his last college football game. When you consider the difficulty the Patriots have had finding wide receivers in the draft, the trepidation associated with this potential decision should be even more intense.

While the injury concerns aren’t going away, Williams’ upside is truly tantalizing. After transferring from Ohio State ahead of the 2021 season, Williams exploded in his only season with the Crimson Tide.

In 2021, Williams snagged 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 TDs. The TDs and yardage were tops on the team. I spoke with former NFL executive and current ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum and he had very high praise for Williams. Tannenbaum said Williams’ play speed reminds him of Tyreek Hill.

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Because of the injury, we didn’t get a chance to see Williams demonstrate his quickness at the NFL Combine or at a Pro Day, but when a former NFL GM says something like that about a prospect it holds some weight. The Patriots have rarely had a true deep threat during the Bill Belichick era.

The last player who came closest to filling that role was Brandin Cooks. Back in 2017, Cooks racked up 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and 7 TDs. Since that season, the Patriots have only had one receiver eclipse the 1,000-yard mark, and that’s Julian Edelman in 2019.

Edelman is retired and the team was paced by Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne in 2021, with both men tallying 866 and 800 receiving yards, respectively. If Williams could turn into a legit No. 1 receiver who gives Mac Jones and the Patriots’ offense a home-run threat and go-to-guy for big plays, it is difficult to quantify how valuable it could be long term.


How is Jameson Williams’ Recovery Going?

From a recovery standpoint, Williams is “ahead of schedule,” according to the dynamic pass-catcher.

“I was hearing five to seven months, but I’m hearing I’m ahead of schedule,” Williams said during the first week of March, per NFL.com’s Nick Shook. “I’m six weeks out of surgery right now. I’ve been walking without the brace for two weeks, without the crutch for three weeks. Hopefully things keep going on this track, and I’ll be back as soon as possible.”

Any team that drafts Williams will want to be cautious with the way they use him during his rookie season. Because of that, he might not see his first action until after Halloween or perhaps even Thanksgiving. That’s not the end of the world, as is the case with any draft selection, the decision is one that is based on future success more than immediate return.

As long as Patriots fans understand that, there would be room for excitement and optimism if Williams is picked by New England. Patience is key and a bit of luck. Mueller isn’t likely the only NFL mind that considers Williams a big-time talent. It is possible another WR-needy team could elect to snag him before the Patriots pick.

If a team is willing to wait on Williams to get to 100%, his talent is clear to most evaluators.

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