Prior to the draft, I wrote “fans and media are looking for a small slot receiver to complement Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, but that’s not really what the team needs. Austin already plays the slot for the Cowboys, and the team has Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris, too. The offense could potentially be debilitated if either Austin or Bryant gets injured, so they really need another big, physical outside receiver as their No. 3.”
Well, they got their guy in third-round receiver Terrance Williams out of Baylor. Williams was a favorite of mine prior to the draft, and I think the Cowboys got good value on a guy who shouldn’t have slipped into the third. Let’s take a look at my original scouting report on Williams, what I like, what I don’t like, and how I’d grade him after studying him more.
At 6-2, 208 pounds, Williams has good size for the wide receiver position. Remember, height and weight are more strongly correlated with NFL success than speed for receivers, although Williams (4.47) has long speed to boot. He’s one of the better size/speed combo wide receivers in this class.
Williams is a glider with long strides, which means he can have some trouble getting in and out of his breaks. He’s not a terrible route-runner by any means, but he excels more on in-breaking and deep routes than comeback routes. Ironically, he ran a whole lot of comebacks and hitch routes at Baylor. He does a nice job of pushing those routes up the field to gain separation, and he comes back to the quarterback to make the catch.
Williams has good hands, although he lets the ball get into his body on a frequent basis. He’ll need to improve that at the next level when cornerbacks are right on his back instead of five yards behind him. Once he makes the catch, Williams looks to make plays. He has good run-after-catch ability on underneath routes and excellent body control on deep routes. He uses his big frame to shield off defenders pretty easily.
One of the biggest questions for Williams right now is whether or not he can get off of a press. He rarely faced press coverage at Baylor, so it will be interesting to see how the receiver—a player with better long speed than short-area quickness—handles a strong defensive back in his face.
What I Like
I don’t think you can emphasize Williams’ weight/speed combination enough; it’s vital. I also love how productive Williams was at Baylor in 2012, catching 97 passes for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns. Williams averaged 18.9 yards-per-catch, and that kind of production in the Big 12 is impressive. The best predictor of future performance is past success. So often we talk about a prospect’s film and his measurables, but we forget to look at how he’s produced against a high level of competition in the past. It’s also worth noting that Williams converted 13.4 percent of his career catches into touchdowns.
What I Don’t Like
Prior to 2012, Williams never recorded 1,000 yards in a season. His previous career-high in catches came in 2011 with 59. The primary explanation for that gigantic surge in production—and a reason to be legitimately concerned about Williams—is that he was 23 years old in 2012. Williams will begin his NFL career at the age of 24, so there’s a good chance that the dominance we saw from him this past season was the result of being older and more experienced than other players. If Williams had come out after the 2011 season, he’d be the exact same player, but probably a late-round pick. I love Williams, but I’m concerned that we might have seen him come closer to maxing out his potential than a younger player with more upside.
Re-Grade: Second Round
This grade won’t change; Williams is old for a rookie, but I knew about that prior to the draft. I’d be more concerned if we were looking at a 6-0 receiver with 4.55 speed, but Williams has all of the physical tools to succeed and at least one year with big-time production.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.