Selected in the third round in last weekend's NFL Draft, WR/PR Damian Williams is already garnering high praise from the key figures in the Tennessee Titans' organization.
Head Coach Jeff Fisher stated that the team was considering trading up to attain DW but fortunately, he was there for the taking at pick #77. Most recently, GM Mike Reinfeldt teased us by mentioning the possibility of Williams developing into a #1 WR someday.
In addition to his tantalizing abilities at WR, Williams was also drafted for his punt return skills, which of course, is an area of great need for the Titans.
Although he's expected to make an immediate impact on special teams' as the team's primary returner, could Damian Williams also step up as a contributor at WR as a rookie?
Polished is perhaps the appropriate word to describe Damian Williams' talent at WR. He's very adept at catching the football, runs good routes and just has a great feel for playing the WR position at a relatively young age. It's also a good thing that he's actually turned his potential into production at the college level, as demonstrated by his 70 catch, 1,010 yard performance in 2009.
Williams was also very productive during his only season returning punts at USC in '09, averaging 14.2 yards per scamper with two touchdowns. He'll immediately be designated as the unofficial "Chris Carr Replacement" and hopefully, he'll provide some stability at a position where the Titans struggled mightily last season.
Though it's likely that his biggest impact will come on special teams, it's only natural to consider the chance of Williams emerging as a factor in the passing game. Sure, vets Nate Washington, Justin Gage, Kenny Britt and Lavelle Hawkins are already ahead of DW at WR, which will make it difficult for Williams to see the field in any capacity other than returning punts/kicks.
However, the group of wide-outs in front of Williams all have their question marks. Washington's a speedy guy, but unfortunately, catching the football on a consistent basis isn't his forte. Gage is a solid vet but injuries have been a problem for him as of late. Britt has the skills, but he's apparently getting close to being in Jeff Fisher's doghouse and Hawkins, despite his talent, hasn't really stepped up as a consistent option.
As a result, Williams will certainly have a chance to turn Mike Reinfeldt's wishes of him emerging as a #1 WR into reality in the future.
Of course, as for right now, I envision Damian's biggest contributions coming on punt returns, with him showing flashes of what he can become at WR as a rookie. Hopefully, his career projectory can follow in the footsteps of former Titan Derrick Mason,who, after paying his dues as a returner, stepped up as the team's #1 WR for several years.
Any thoughts on the potential rookie impact of Damian Williams? Feel free to add your commentary below.