With the NFL Draft approaching on Thursday, Clemson fans should prepare to see several former stars fly off the board during all three days of coverage. For Tiger fans, seeing familiar names earlier is better, but an early selection doesn’t always mean a better situation.
Mike Williams is one of the top three wide receivers on everyone’s draft board. His combination of length and ball skills makes him a plausible downfield threat immediately upon arrival in the NFL. Here are the three best fits for the four-year wideout:
- Detroit Lions (21)
It feels like this would have been a perfect fit for Williams last year, after Calvin Johnson called it quits. As it stands, the Lions morphed into a different type of passing attack without Megatron, with more of an emphasis on speed than size. Still, Matthew Stafford has a big arm and deserves a chance to air it out from time to time.
If they decided to go with Williams (and all indications are that he’ll be gone before he gets down to 21), the Lions could resurrect a more well-rounded passing game that emphasizes downfield throws. Pairing Williams with an underneath weapon would unleash his ability to win one-on-one battles. That could make the Lions a sneaky contender with the talent that exists elsewhere.
- Baltimore Ravens (16)
If you haven’t seen the Ravens’ skill talent, go take a look. It is hideous. The players whose names you recognize (and there aren’t many) are past their respective primes. This means a young, rangy athlete like Williams will likely immediately become Joe Flacco’s favorite option to make plays on offense.
Flacco really enjoys throwing the ball deep, but he hasn’t had a receiver that could convert those throws into big chunks of yardage since Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin departed. The Ravens are wasting Flacco’s skill set without a viable deep threat, and they know it. That’s why conventional wisdom has Williams (or another top wideout) coming off the board right here.
- Tennessee Titans (5, 18)
Marcus Mariota emerged last year as one of the top playmaking young quarterbacks in the league. Now, he needs some more capable targets to complement him in the passing game. Mariota’s running ability bought him some time, but you can only operate without a stud on the perimeter for so long.
Williams would join a receiving corps that has some nice pieces but no leader. He could be that leader, and his catch radius would give Mariota the margin for error he desperately needs when he tries to attack opposing defenses vertically. Plus, the Titans have two chances to take him in the first round if they prefer his in-the-air catching ability to some of the other options available.
Los Angeles Chargers—Philip Rivers is no spring chicken, and the Chargers have been boring for a while because the backs and receivers have been boring. Williams certainly could be a bolt of lightning (pun intended) for the newest LA franchise.
Buffalo Bills—Buffalo always drafts a Clemson player. Williams makes the most sense, and the Bills could always use a healthy option at a position where injuries have cost them over the past couple of years.
New Orleans Saints—Williams doesn’t exactly fit what Drew Brees and company do in terms of throwing the football. However, his presence could add an extra wrinkle to a scheme that already works like a charm.