Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Preston Williams, WR of Colorado State. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
Preston Williams is yet another wide receiver prospect in the 2019 crop of rookies with a seemingly tantalizing size-speed combination. Unlike some of his more heralded cohort, Williams had a bumpy collegiate career before finally breaking out in his final season. What can we look forward to and expect from Williams at the professional level?
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Statistics via sports-reference.com.
Williams began his career at Tennessee as a highly regarded four-star recruit. Some outlets, like 247Sports, rated Williams as a five-star recruit and the third-best receiver in the nation, behind just Calvin Ridley and Deon Cain.
Unfortunately, even a brief look at Williams’ statistics above show that he never lived up to that billing at Tennessee. He had a hard time staying on the field through his first three years of eligibility. A torn ACL during his senior year in high school sidelined him until the end of his freshman season, but Williams showed well in his limited action in 2015, catching seven passes for 158 yards (22.6 yards per reception) and two touchdowns.
Finally healthy, Williams was primed to break out as a sophomore, but had a falling out with the coaching staff – resulting in just nine catches across four games – before deciding to transfer to Colorado State. Due to the antiquated NCAA transfer rules, Williams would have to sit out the 2017 season anyway. Following a September 2017 arrest for an assault on and domestic dispute with his ex-girlfriend, he ended up getting suspended by his new team. All other charges were dropped after Williams pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment.
Because of all this, the first true glimpse at Williams’ potential on a football field came in 2018 for the Colorado State Rams. Playing in 12 games, he broke out to the tune of 96 catches, 1,345 yards, and 14 touchdowns. Williams dominated targets – commanding a whopping 166 – and led the Rams at every level of the field. In fact, his dominator rating of 47.9% ranked second among draft-eligible receivers (behind Andy Isabella) and fifth in the entire nation. And, per PFF, he led all Group of Five wide receivers in combined first downs and touchdowns.
Williams has flashes on tape that show exactly why he was such a tantalizing player out of high school. Yet he fails to display those positive traits on a consistent basis. At his best, he makes the game look easy, displaying traits reminiscent of AJ Green.
Inconsistency is the perfect word for Williams’ tape. He has shown the ability to do everything you want a receiver to do, but struggles to do it on a rep-to-rep basis.
Williams plays faster than his 40 time on tape. He is a long strider with smooth, build-up deep speed, but his burst leaves something to be desired. Although his agility drills were below average (along with everything else), he displays adequate change-of-direction skills and fluidity on tape.
He is raw as a route runner and has the tendency to struggle working through press (and contact in general). Whereas some deep threats excel at tracking the ball downfield and stacking defensive backs, Williams struggles in this area from time to time, but has reps where he pieces a number of these positive traits together. The tools are there for him to develop into a plus route runner – he just doesn’t do it often enough.
Williams does have natural hands, which is why it is frustrating that he body catches as often as he does. For a player with the catch radius he has, he should be willing to attack the ball outside his frame more often. His preference to body catch the football leads to a number of concentration drops, but having said that, he shows the ability to excel in contested catch situations if he can display more aggression.
For all the inconsistency in his game, it is worth reiterating that he essentially only played one season of college football. Some team will gamble on the potential he possesses.
Williams was not invited to the Combine because of his 2017 arrest stemming from a dispute with his ex-girlfriend. As a result, we don’t have official testing numbers for him and he does not have a MockDraftable page.
Fortunately for us, he went through drills at his pro day that we can use to evaluate his athletic profile. Unfortunately for us, these results were horrific.
Williams has been touted as a size-speed freak throughout the pre-draft process. Measuring in at 6’4” and 210 pounds, the size is certainly there. Here are his pro day results, courtesy of Rotoworld.
40: 4.57 and 4.64 seconds
Vertical: 31.5 inches (ninth percentile)
Broad Jump: 116 inches (22nd percentile)
Shuttle: 4.35 seconds (17th percentile)
3-Cone: 7.11 seconds (20th percentile)
None of these results are good. Standard practice for pro day 40 times is to adjust up approximately .06 seconds. If we use his better pro day time of 4.57 and then adjust it, a 4.63 result is in the 13th percentile. It is entirely fair to say that Williams bombed his chance to move up draft boards.
Williams was the 41st player off the board across the ten DLF April Rookie ADP mocks, ranging from the 30th selection to undrafted in three drafts. This makes him the 17th wide receiver off the board in rookie drafts, on average. DLF’s rookie rankings value Williams similarly, ranking him as the rookie WR16 and the fortieth best player in the 2019 class.
Startup ADP places Williams as the 226th overall player. He was only drafted in four of six startup mocks, and is typically available in the late rounds.
Preston Williams is a player I was much, much higher on before the pre-draft process began. I entered this off-season expecting to leave every rookie draft with Williams on my team, and considered him a top-five receiver in this class on talent alone. However, his tape leaves much to be desired in terms of consistency, and that is a hard thing to overlook.
It is also hard to be considered a size-speed weapon when the speed is lacking.
Williams is a very risky selection in both rookie and startup drafts. While I consider him a talented player, his off-field concerns, small sample size of production, and poor testing results will likely render him a late-round NFL draft pick at best. Because of this, I do not view him as much more than a boom-or-bust flier at the end of rookie drafts.
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