I have to admit that I have not paid as much attention as I probably should have to Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards because I figured he’d be off the board by the time the Vikings’ 7th pick rolls around. But with all the recent rumors and speculation of the Vikings trading up, Edwards is a possibility and I’d be perfectly happy with picking him.
Because I didn’t believe Edwards would be around, I’ve been focusing my research on USC’s Mike Williams. The "problem" with Williams, or so everyone is saying, is that he doesn’t have blazing speed and that he hasn’t played in a year because he was part of the Maurice Clarett court ruling.
I’ve been torn on the speed issue, which is why I’d be happy with either Edwards or South Carolina’s Troy Williamson. After seven years of Randy Moss, we know how having a receiver who can stretch the field can open up the entire offense. But regardless of whether or not we get a speedster, whoever we get will not compare to Moss.
So is Williams’ relatively slow 4.56 40-yard-dash speed a "problem"? I wonder. He’s not going to blaze past a lot of Corners the way Randy did but take into account that at 6′ 5", he’s an inch taller than Moss; he’s 20 pounds heavier than Moss; he’s got a 37" vertical jump; his arms are 34" long; and his hand size is 8 7/8".
With those dimensions, does Williams really need to have blazing speed? Can’t you just send him downfield, toss him the ball, and have him out-jump and out-muscle defenders for the ball? And with replacing Moss with a receiver that is 20 pounds heavier, we should improve on routes across the middle.
He’s supposed to be devestating in the red zone, which is what we’ve lost the most in the Moss trade. Production is the thing that matters most out of a reciever: How are we going to make up the 15 to 17 touchdowns per season that Randy Moss gave us? Williams scored 30 TDs over two seasons at USC.
The other "problem," then, is that Williams had to sit for 2004. But as the Pioneer Press‘ Don Seeholzer points out today, Williams has not been idle. He’s been working out with none other than former Viking and future Hall of Famer, Cris Carter at his sports training center in Boca Raton, Florida.
First, as a receiver, you couldn’t have a much better teacher than Cris Carter, so he’s got that going for him. As Seeholzer’s article points out, not only has Williams been keeping in shape by following Carter’s physical training regimen, he’s been running pro routes and watching film, so he’ll be much better prepared to make the transition to the NFL.
And that ain’t no small thing. Receivers rarely contribute in a big way in their first year. Randy Moss did but he was the definite exception. Nate Burleson is more typical: It took him a year to get acclimated to the NFL and he blossomed in his second year. If he’s a top ten pick, you can expect most receivers to take at least a year to be a significant contributor. Between Edwards and Williams, it appears that Williams is already closer to making that transition.