Saturday, 30 January 2010
POTD: Damian Williams, WR, USC
By Kip Earlywine
The Seahawks badly need play makers on offense. As it turns out, they need help at WR even worse than I thought. I was under the impression that Housh, Burleson, and Branch provided the Seahawks with an above average WR group (albeit on a somewhat rental basis) last year, but these statistics paint a different picture. I think they have Housh too low, and obviously these receivers are suffering because of the ill suited OC and gimpy QB they played with, but point taken- the Seahawks WRs are not difference makers, and even if they were, none of those 3 will likely be here in 2012.
What really killed the Seahawks last year was that very close to every play they ran was 10 yards or less. In addition to the running plays which are generally short-medium yardage, the passing offense featured a ton of dump offs, screens, and very short possession passes. Because the Seahawks did not have a deep threat or big play WR, or a QB with the arm to capitalize on it, this allowed opposing defenses to game plan the short yardage game which the WCO lives off of, and the Seahawks had absolutely no way of punishing defenses for doing that. To make things worse, even the best skill position player on the offense last year, Justin Forsett, doesn't showcase big play speed, so this also played into the opponents hands when they game planned to stop the short yardage. Obviously, a big priority over the next couple offseasons must be adding play makers and building a new, young, good offensive core to help the team win for years to come.
One of the top WRs in this year's draft class is Damian Williams. He's expected to be a late 1st round pick at this point.
Unofficial 40: 4.45
(highlights begin at 7:35) If you get an error message, right click then select "watch on youtube."
(highlights begin at 2:30)
-VERY smooth runner, awesome routes
-Crisp execution... consistent
-Makes tough catches
-Deceptive Speed, could be a decent deep threat
-Above average size
-Was very successful right out of the gate at USC
-Has never fumbled
-Good yards per catch (15.0, 14.4 the last two years)
-Low Risk, guys like Williams were born to be a WCO WR.
-Familiarity with Bates and Carroll.
-Healthy (had a shoulder ligament issue during his redshirt season (2007), looks like ancient history)
-No character concerns
-Catches the ball close to his body.
-Not explosive or physical, if you want Brandon Marshall, draft someone else.
-Doesn't look like an NFL caliber kick returner (looks slow, doesn't blow by guys or break tackles).
-Looks like a finesse player that would probably be at his best in a pure WCO like Mike Holmgren's.
-No good looks at his blocking but I've read it needs a little work.
-Might not have true #1 upside.
You can read Matt McGuire's impressions of Damian Williams here, obviously he goes into more detail. Its worth noting that he closes out his review by saying "Williams might be the best route-runner I have seen in four years of scouting."
Williams compares very well to Steve Smith (Giants version): both played for USC and have similar skills. Smith had 1220 yards and 7 TDs last year in his 3rd year in the NFL.
As Kyle Rota mentioned a couple weeks ago, last year USC had a rookie QB and a new OC (Bates), which meant Bates had to adjust by running the ball a whopping 60% of the time. Despite a lack of opportunity, a new OC, and a rookie QB, Damian Williams still finished the season with a respectable 1010 yards and 6 TD's in 70 grabs. That's not superstar production, but even a superstar probably wouldn't put up huge numbers in that situation.
Overall, the only thing that prevents me from giving Williams a massive endorsement is the question of whether he's an ideal WR for the new offense Bates will try to create. If we use Denver as the template, we know he likes big "beastly" WR and small/quick WR in the mold of Marshall/Royal. Damian Williams is neither of those things. But if Bates is ok with that, and willing to adjust his offense to a more precision based scheme like what Holmgren ran, then obviously Williams could be a great pickup.
Posted by Kip Earlywine