After drafting a center and tight end in the first two rounds of the 2013 NFL draft, everybody and their brother figured the Dallas Cowboys would look to add a defender with their first selection in the third round. They didn’t, instead opting for a clear “best player available” in Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams.
Williams is a freaky athlete—6'2", 208 pounds with 4.48 speed—who exploded for over 1,800 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior in 2012. From my initial scouting report on Williams:
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.
If you look closely, the Cowboys seem to be making a serious effort to boost their red-zone production—an area where they’ve struggled in recent seasons.
First-round center Travis Frederick should upgrade the Cowboys’ short-yardage running efforts, and second-round tight end Gavin Escobar has been a big-time receiving threat in the red zone. Now the Cowboys add Williams—a player who converted 13.4 percent of his college catches into touchdowns. Even in 2011, Williams scored 11 times on only 59 receptions.
Fit in Dallas
I know people will say wide receiver wasn’t a need, but I really think a big, physical No. 3 receiver can benefit Dallas. The offense used at least three receivers on 56 percent of its offensive snaps last year, so Williams will basically become a starter. He’ll play outside in three-receiver sets, with Miles Austin moving into the slot.
On top of that, the Cowboys offense could have been decimated if either Austin or Dez Bryant got injured. Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley are nice players, but they can’t play outside. Had Austin or Bryant gone down, the ‘Boys would have either had to force Harris into the starting lineup or play someone even less talented with more size.
Now, Williams can step into that role.
I think Williams can make a pretty big impact in 2013—as far as rookie wide receivers go—because he’ll see tons of single coverage. With Bryant drawing double-teams outside and Jason Witten attracting attention over the middle, it’s not out of the question to expect a 30/450/4 season from Williams, even if he remains as the No. 3 receiver.
What can I say? I’m a sucker for big, fast wide receivers coming off of seasons with 1,800-plus yards. I think Williams has elite potential; I had him rated only 14 spots below Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson on my big board.
There’s a good chance that Williams will be the Cowboys’ starting wide receiver opposite Bryant within a season or two.