Jameson Williams, Alabama WR | NFL Draft Scouting Report

After transferring, has Alabama WR Jameson Williams strengthened his scouting report enough to be the WR1 in the 2022 NFL Draft?

Alabama wide receivers are no strangers to the NFL Draft. Over the past two cycles, four Crimson Tide receivers have gone Round 1. With his scouting report, Alabama WR Jameson Williams is a surefire pick to follow in their footsteps. A late-season injury marred Williams’ outlook for a time. But with the talent Williams has, one can only drop so far. Here’s a look at Williams’ skill set, which grants him unmatched security in the first round of the draft.

Jameson Williams NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • School: Alabama
  • Current Year: Junior
  • Height: 6’1 1/2″
  • Weight: 180 pounds
  • Wingspan: 75 7/8″
  • Length: 32 1/8″
  • Hand: 9 1/4″

Jameson Williams Scouting Report

Every year, players come out of nowhere. But at the wide receiver position, there’s always an explosive element to breakouts. The nature of the position — especially for the most prestigious teams — makes it impossible to ignore when players produce. That was the case for Williams in 2021.

In his first and only season with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Williams legitimately lit up the college football stage. He came to the SEC and dominated immediately, becoming the primary target of 2023 QB prospect Bryce Young. Williams wins on account of his special long speed, a central part of his game. But he brings even more to the table than that.

Williams’ athletic profile

Athleticism, in some form, is becoming a necessity for NFL wide receivers. And it’s clear that Williams is not understocked in that regard. The Alabama WR has supreme explosive capacity, and he uses that to generate big plays whenever he sees the ball come his way.

Williams is uncommonly explosive out of his stance, and he has legitimate game-breaking speed in space. His long, energetic strides are absurdly efficient, and he can gain separation with his elite acceleration alone. Williams is very dangerous when schemed into space, but he also has the skill set to create space on his own.

When he’s not taking the top off of defenses, Williams has proven to have strong run-after-catch ability. The Alabama WR has impressive lateral agility and elusiveness. He’s a jittery RAC threat who also has incredibly fluid hips. He can shrink himself and make sharp direction changes with ease. Williams is a sudden and twitchy receiver, but also incredibly smooth and natural stacking moves.

Williams glides in open space, and he’s a smooth player with easily accessible dynamic ability. But at 6’1 1/2″, 180 pounds, with arms over 32″, he has a solid frame as well. The Alabama product is a little lanky, but he has the size to be competitive in contested situations. With this size, he also has some balance amid contact. He’s shown he can shrug off arm tackles and even bounce off direct contact at times.

Execution beyond the athletic traits

Williams’ athletic foundation is extremely exciting, but so is his surprising polish and instinct as a receiver.

The Alabama WR’s athleticism translates easily to his route running. He naturally sinks his hips on route breaks and uses fast feet to cut stems with suddenness. At these stems, Williams can also use physicality to maximize separation. Additionally, Williams can stack quick direction changes, stopping and starting abruptly as a route runner. He sells his breaks with effortless voracity, and his twitch allows him to force DBs into a lurch.

Expanding on Williams’ route running, the Alabama WR knows how to subtly manipulate defensive backs downfield with his running angles. This also shows up after the catch. Williams is a slippery runner who can adjust his speed and angle leverage to keep plays alive. Moreover, Williams can lean in and out of direction changes, attacking challenging angles in space. He has great overall balance, but it shines when he’s a ball carrier.

Williams can be an elite route runner, but he’s also adept in contested situations. The Crimson Tide WR possesses excellent concentration, balance, and body control at the catch point. He’s proven he can adjust for inaccurate passes, track the ball, and contort quickly to position himself for the catch. In these situations, Williams has impressive focus and proactively seeks out the ball with his hands. He can also work through contact and snare passes under pressure.

Areas for improvement

Being a true junior, it’s no surprise that while Williams is a strong player, there are still areas for improvement. Most notably, the Alabama WR can still attain greater consistency as a route runner. Williams rounds his breaks on occasion and can use his traits more expansively at times. He can also utilize head fakes and deception to a greater degree. He can be more calculated and coordinated during his breaks at times, and there’s room for him to expand his route tree overall.

Going further, Williams doesn’t have a ton of experience against press — though part of this may be strategic due to his speed. Nevertheless, he may need to adjust to NFL physicality. The Crimson Tide product can also expand his range of releases off the line. He has potential there, but his releases aren’t always complex. And with his lighter frame, he may have issues against NFL physicality.

While Williams is solid overall with his hands and concentration, his focus sometimes lapses when he has to reach beyond his frame for passes. This causes occasional focus drops. Additionally, after the catch, Williams sometimes freezes and allows defenders to close in while trying to be too creative. Creativity is certainly desired, but a level of decisiveness also must be present.

Finally, Williams isn’t a great run blocker. He doesn’t always position himself correctly, and he doesn’t sustain blocks very well, either. There are also times when Williams doesn’t block to the final whistle. Blocking is relatively minor for receivers but notable nonetheless.

Williams’ 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview

Although he didn’t come to Alabama as a high school recruit like other past first-round picks for the Crimson Tide, Williams is still in a position to carry on their legacy. The Alabama WR was one of the most productive receivers in college football this year. But beyond that, he has an enticing NFL skill set with upside that few receivers can match.

As a deep threat, Williams is undoubtedly the best in his class. He has elite explosiveness and speed, and his long strides in open space are near impossible to keep up with. Although he wasn’t able to run, Williams has legitimate 4.3 speed. He can create distance between himself and defenders instantly, and he destroys open-field tackling angles with his acceleration.

Beyond his speed and explosiveness, however, Williams has the makings of a complete NFL wide receiver. He has loose, flexible hips that can sink with ease on route-running reps. He’s an incredibly twitchy player who can generate displacement off quick, subtle movements. And at the catch point, Williams has great hands, focus, and instincts, and he flashes high-level body control.

Even after tearing his ACL late in the 2021 season, Williams is still viewed as a consensus first-round prospect. He’s on track to make a full recovery. It’s hard to tell how high he goes, but with his game-breaking speed, he’ll absolutely be coveted — even if he isn’t fully available right away.

Williams’ Player Profile

Williams’ experience is one that emphasizes the depth of talent present in some pockets of the college football landscape. Because if it weren’t for a trip to the transfer portal, Williams might’ve been buried on the depth chart somewhere else.

The talent was always visible with Williams. He dominated the competition in high school, where his roots as a deep threat took hold. As a two-time track-and-field title winner and a state record-holder in the 300-meter hurdles, Williams’ speed directly translated to the football field. As a junior, he amassed 1,062 yards and 15 scores on just 36 catches. The next year, he piled on 1,626 yards and 22 touchdowns on 68 receptions.

With his production and physical potential, Williams earned a four-star recruit status in the 2019 class. Alabama offered a scholarship to Williams, as did schools like Georgia, Michigan State, Michigan, and Florida. But the Missouri native chose to sign with Ohio State, drawn by Brian Hartline’s developmental track record.

Williams’ talent, combined with Ohio State’s prestige as a producer, helped cultivate excitement for his arrival. But the glamour of his opportunity in Columbus soon soured. In his first two seasons, Williams caught just 15 passes for 266 yards and 3 scores. Meanwhile, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave earned greater roles above him. Ohio State also signed four high-profile WRs in the 2020 class and another three in 2021. The writing was on the wall for Williams. So, in 2021, he transferred to Alabama.

Williams’ career at Alabama and NFL Draft ascension

Williams came to the Alabama Crimson Tide at an opportune time. Head coach Nick Saban had just led his team to a CFP National Championship Game. Buzz at Bryant-Denny Stadium remained high, but there was a talent gap from 2020. Jayden Waddle and DeVonta Smith both entered the 2021 NFL Draft, leaving only John Metchie III and Slade Bolden as past producers.

The opportunity ahead reinvigorated Williams, and he entered camp with newfound energy. He impressed Alabama coaches enough to earn a premier role in the offense early, and the rest is (recent) history. Williams exploded onto the NFL Draft scene with his 2021 campaign, racking up 79 catches for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns. He averaged 19.9 yards per catch and established himself as the most dynamic playmaker in the CFB.

Regardless of his injury, Williams has put enough quality play on tape to pique scouts’ interest. His speed is truly rare, but he’s not a simple deep threat or gadget guy. He’s a well-rounded receiver with an exciting, dynamic element. Furthermore, he has ability as a returner. As long as there’s a sense that he can make a full recovery, teams will be jumping at the chance to add his brand of speed to their offense. He’s a rare prospect — and by extension, a first-round prospect.

Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Jameson Williams

Positives: Explosive receiver who was having a career campaign before going down with a knee injury during the national title game. Smooth and fluid, quickly gets into breaks, and stays low on exit. Comes back to the ball, extends his hands, and snatches the pass out of the air. Tracks the ball in the air, easily adjusts to errant throws, and makes receptions in stride.

Possesses quick and strong hands, plucks the ball out of the air, and displays solid eye/hand coordination. Immediately gets to top speed, displays good route discipline, and works to make himself an available target. Effectively uses the sidelines and plays with both balance and body control. Throws his body around the field on coverage units.

Negatives: Occasionally secures the ball against his frame, which leads to drops. Never displayed himself as a consistent deep threat and must now return from a knee injury sustained in January.

Analysis: After being a part-time receiver at Ohio State, Williams stepped into the starting lineup for Alabama and made an immediate impact. He’s a smooth wideout with excellent size as well as next-level hands. However, Williams must polish his game and return from injury with no ill effects. Williams possesses the tools to start at the next level, and my only concern is that the team that drafts him rushes him back into the lineup.

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @IC_Draft.

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