Alabama WR Jameson Williams Declares for 2022 NFL Draft Despite Reported ACL Injury

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 13, 2022

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - NOVEMBER 20:  Jameson Williams #1 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after a touchdown reception against Myles Slusher #2 of the Arkansas Razorbacks during the second half at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 20, 2021 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams announced he's declaring for the 2022 NFL draft.

ESPN College Football @ESPNCFB

Jameson WIlliams has announced that he will be entering the 2022 NFL Draft. <a href="https://t.co/mE2URwFrq5">pic.twitter.com/mE2URwFrq5</a>

Williams ranked 12th overall and third at his position on the big board for Bleacher Report's NFL Scouting Department before suffering an injury during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. He was also projected to go 17th overall to the Los Angeles Chargers on B/R's mock draft before the injury on Monday.

B/R NFL scout Nate Tice compared him to three-time Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson:

"Jameson Williams is an outside wide receiver with true home run speed that will translate to any NFL offense. He has excellent burst and long speed that lets him take the top off defenses on deep routes, but he can also split defenders on underneath throws and consistently create yards after the catch.
"Although Williams' calling card is his overwhelming speed, he shows polish and nuance with his route running. He will tempo his routes to keep defenders off-balance and has good body control and balance to consistently stay tight when breaking on routes. This ability flashes the most on double-moves and makes him a tough guard for defenders throughout a game."

The 6'2" pass-catcher took full advantage of the NCAA's new transfer rules and headed south to Tuscaloosa ahead of the 2021 season following two nondescript years at Ohio State.

"To me, things were just unclear," Williams said of his situation with the Buckeyes, per BamaInsider's Andrew Bone. "I wasn't certain of my role in the offense. The receiver room got crowded. I just decided I needed a fresh start. I decided to enter the portal."

If he had stayed in Columbus, the 20-year-old probably would have been overshadowed by the trio of Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave once again. As a member of the Crimson Tide, he instead played a starring role in the passing game.

The St. Louis native was the team's leading receiver, finishing with 79 catches for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns.

SEC Network @SECNetwork

The first player in <a href="https://twitter.com/AlabamaFTBL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AlabamaFTBL</a> history with 4 Rec TDs of 75+ yards in a season:<br><br>Jameson Williams 😤 <a href="https://t.co/Rs8FKLejHX">pic.twitter.com/Rs8FKLejHX</a>

His best performance came in a 42-35 victory over Arkansas on Nov. 20. He finished with eight receptions, 190 yards and three touchdowns.


.<a href="https://twitter.com/AlabamaFTBL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@alabamaftbl</a> makes it look easy.<br><br>Jameson Williams scores his second TD of the half. <a href="https://t.co/owdYYgu5Ml">pic.twitter.com/owdYYgu5Ml</a>

CBS Sports @CBSSports

JAMESON WILLIAMS WITH THE HAT TRICK<br><br>What an effort for the <a href="https://twitter.com/AlabamaFTBL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@alabamaFTBL</a> touchdown. <a href="https://t.co/hq8P07K2Ia">pic.twitter.com/hq8P07K2Ia</a>

Especially after he reportedly suffered a torn ACL in the national championship game, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, questions lingered as to whether Williams would return to Alabama for his senior year.

DeVonta Smith was a prime example of why exhausting one's eligibility can be beneficial.

Smith could have made the jump to the NFL after his junior season and still been an early-round pick. Instead, he stayed at Alabama for 2020 and had one of the most prolific years for any FBS receiver ever (117 receptions, 1,856 yards, 23 touchdowns) en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. He was also the 10th overall pick in the 2021 draft.

Bryce Young is back for 2022 as well, so it's not as if Alabama's offense is likely to take a step backward, either.

But Williams put enough on tape to almost certainly be a Day 1 this spring, even with the ACL injury. His breakaway speed is clear to see with a cursory viewing of his highlight reel, and that big-play ability will tantalize NFL scouts.

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban might be disappointed he only had Williams' services for one season.

In terms of finding a replacement, Saban has already shown a willingness to lean on the transfer portal for immediate results. Alabama also has commitments from three 4-star receiver recruits: Shazz Preston, Aaron Anderson and Kobe Prentice.