Posted on: August 1, 2010 11:36 pm
The Tampa Bay Bucs surprised many with the decision to fortify the defensive tackle and wide receiver positions in April with multiple picks in the first four rounds. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick of the draft, of course, received most of the attention. His linemate, Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Brian Price, received plenty, as well.
Of the wideouts, second round pick Arrelious Benn, not surprisingly garnered more media hype than fourth round pick Mike Williams. It is Williams, who, according to Tampa head coach Raheem Morris, is the rookie creating the most buzz among the Bucs' staff.
In fact, according to this article from the Bucs' official website , Williams is currently the team's starting X receiver.
Morris, of course, was quick to point out that the depth chart could change before Tampa opens the regular season September 12 hosting the Cleveland Browns, but he gushed about his rookie wideout to reporters following practice Sunday.
"He's been working at the X position with the ones. He's been out there a lot of the time. You also see Sammie Stroughter out there at the X position. Mike Williams had a dynamic offseason. He's come in and done everything we've asked. He's been one of the guys that's caught the ball. He's stood out. He's been standing out since he's been here."
Morris further explained Williams' impressive start.
"He's a big, tall, fast guy that can go out there and make plays," said Morris. "Right now, he's running with the ones. He'll have an opportunity to go out there and prove himself in the preseason. Final depth charts and all that stuff don't come out until we go play Cleveland, but right now he's running with the ones, he's getting some one reps and he's having a ball. And his teammates are having a ball with him.
Williams impressing on the field shouldn't come as a surprise. NFLDraftScout.com rated Williams as a potential first round talent entering the 2009 season. His off-field actions that led to an academic suspension in 2008 and ultimately his abrupt departure from the Orange November 2nd of last year were the reasons why the former Big East star fell to the 101st pick of the draft. Previous to the suspension, Williams was enjoying a fantastic season for Syracuse (49 receptions for 746 yards and six touchdowns), earning recognition as a Biletnikof Award semi-finalist as the nation's top receiver. Only the ten most deserving receivers in the country (at least in the eyes of the Biletnikof committee) are recognized as semi-finalists.
In 31 games for the Orange Williams caught 133 passes for 2,044 yards and 20 touchdowns. He caught touchdowns in a school record nine consecutive games in 2008.
Williams certainly has the physical components to surprise as a rookie. His rare combination of size, speed, body control and sticky hands jumped off on film. I thought Williams was the single-most impressive wideout during receiver drills at the Combine -- which I and a handful of other media members the league and National Football Scouting allowed to attend. I characterized Williams as "routinely [making] the eye-popping reception look easy" in this post-workout report.
With fantasy football enthusiasts all champing at the bit to find the newest sleeper, you can expect a fair amount of talk about Dez Bryant and Golden Tate's fits with the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks, respectively. Don't discount Williams, however. He and quarterback Josh Freeman may be too inexperienced for Williams to truly standout as a rookie, but watch out for the former 'Cuse star to some day be considered one of the true steals of the 2010 draft should be and Freeman develop rapport.
Posted on: April 12, 2009 8:14 pm
The first round of the draft might be getting a little clearer with the news of two interesting free agent signings Sunday.
The Kansas City Chiefs signed veteran inside linebacker Zach Thomas to a one year deal Sunday. While it is only a one year deal, the move signals to me that it is all the more unlikely the Chiefs will be drafting Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry -- at least not if they plan to play him on the inside.
Of course, I've been arguing for weeks that Curry's best fit remains outside in the 4-3 anyway...
On the other front, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed veteran quarterback Byron Leftwich Sunday. Leftwich, who reportedly signed a two year deal, gives the Bucs four quarterbacks: Luke McCown, Brian Griese, Josh Johnson and Leftwich.
Again, the addition of an aging Leftwich will not necessarily keep the Bucs from drafting a quarterback in the first round, if, say, Kansas State's Josh Freeman, were to be available.
However, if the draft unfolds like I anticipate; with both Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez being long gone by the end of the top ten, don't be surprised if Freeman isn't taken soon afterward. Tampa head coach Raheem Morris, who was on the Kansas State staff and knows Freeman as well as any coach in the NFL, may have wanted to reunite with the young star, but in signing Leftwich, he likely is waiving the proverbial white flag in acknowledgement that there is no way Freeman will remain on the board when the Bucs pick at 19.