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Will Dolphins WR Preston Williams shine on Monday Night Football?

Photo Credit: Associated Press

With the halfway point of the 2019 NFL season quickly approaching, it’s fair to say that this year’s rookie class is starting to make some noise across the board. But how do they stack up against the more familiar names in the National Football League? This week, I am kicking off a new series titled Monday Night Rookies. Each week I will highlight a rookie from the upcoming Monday Night Football game and take a dive into his PFN OSM ranking so far in the season. For NFL Week 8, I am looking at Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams.

Pro Football Network’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM) is a formula used to determine a player’s game day performance centered on actions that are solely in his control. This results in a singular, drilled down platform that is akin to how a coordinator would review a player’s execution on each down. A good OSM ranking would be between 20-29. Anything under a 10 is considered poor.

Preston Williams

NFL Week 8 features the Monday night matchup of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Miami Dolphins. To get things started, let’s look at Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams. Williams played wide receiver at Tennessee and Colorado State with a college resume including 1,592 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. He lettered in track and field and was a 2018 2nd team All-American.

Preston went undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft and was signed from free agency during the offseason.

Heading into this matchup, Williams has a PFN OSM grade of 26.48, which ranks him as the 83rd WR in the NFL. But what is most impressive is that Preston has had three games so far this season with an OSM grade in the ’30s, which is considered a very good ranking.

For some examples of what is leading to these grades, let’s look at Week 7 against the Buffalo Bills. Preston Williams ended the day with an OSM grade of 33.78 that placed him right along DeAndre Hopkins, Calvin Ridley, and Dede Westbrook. This was his best performance of the season since his Week 2 showing against Bill Belichick and the Patriots defense when his big-play ability earned him an impressive OSM grade of 36.26.

Williams averaged a competitive separation average of 2.2 yards per reception on the day. For this stat, we look at the average distance between the receiver and the nearest defender at the time the ball is caught. Check out the following play. This is later in the first quarter while the Dolphins are down by six. Preston is able to get past Kevin Johnson on the streak within a few steps of the snap. Notice the step of separation between Williams and Johnson at the time of the catch. This leaves QB Ryan Fitzpatrick the window to drop the ball into Preston’s hands for a big play downfield.

Here’s another example of what good separation looks like. We’re in the first quarter again on a second-down play inside the red zone. Watch the move that Preston puts on the defender that causes a moment of hesitation as he slants over the middle of the field. Once again, take note of the distance between himself and the defender at the catch. This type of consistent space during the game will help to improve a player’s overall PFN OSM grade.

We also want to look at Preston’s YAC (yards after catch). This is the average amount of yards that a player is able to gain after the catch of the ball. In the following clip, Preston catches the ball shy of the marker, but he’s able to turn and get those few valuable yards for the first down.

So far this season, Williams has averaged 2.2 yards of separation and 2.4 yards after the catch. His targeted air yards (the average distance downfield any time the ball is thrown his way) is currently 16th among NFL receivers.

Williams has created some impressive OSM numbers and stats for the majority of the season so far and, on Monday night, he will get to line up against the 15th ranked Pittsburgh Steelers defense to try and keep this trend going as a breakout rookie receiver. With the help of Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ play-calling and a healthy offensive line, Williams has the potential to put up yet another formidable showing for the Dolphins.

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