The Los Angeles Chargers have always favored the tall, strong receivers who can jump up and contest any long ball. With a majority of the receiving corps standing over 6’2”, Los Angeles seems to be carrying on the same tradition. At Clemson, Mike Williams was the perfect match for the team’s philosophy, so he was picked 7th in 2017.
Williams turned out to have a very unproductive year, finishing with only 11 receptions and a measly 95 yards. Riddled with injuries and competing for playing time with a talented roster, Williams quickly fell into a hole. In 2018, Chargers fans should be excited about a healthy Mike Williams, with a future Hall of Famer at quarterback. With the team not being convinced with Tyrell Williams and the drafting of Dylan Cantrell, Mike Williams should have a huge breakout year with how the team is building their offense for 2018.
In 2016, Tyrell Williams had a breakout year, being the 15th Chargers receiver to reach 1,000 yards. Although he stepped up after injuries to star wideout Keenan Allen, he struggled to contest the ball, making him and Philip Rivers the worst duo with an NFL leading 9 interceptions when throwing Tyrell’s way.
Drafting Mike Williams, who specializes in ripping the ball from the air, seemed to be a sign that he would take Tyrell’s spot. It seemed that they would keep Tyrell as a slot or a situational receiver or even trade bait. After Williams was injured before the season even started, Tyrell once again stepped up and took on the role as the second wideout, seeing a dip in production (mostly due to Allen coming back). Tyrell still struggled to fight for the ball and in turn, made the team hesitant before re-signing him.
Although the move was smart, keeping a reliable guy who can step up when needed and a valuable player, I firmly expected the team to perhaps have him traded on draft day. I understand the move because we really haven’t seen Mike Williams play. We also don’t know if he’s going to have a good season, but it’s still his position to lose.
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Standing at 6’3” and 225 pounds, drafting Cantrell just furthers the culture the team is starting to instill in its roster, the tough, catch in-traffic big man. At Texas Tech, Cantrell was a sure-handed bulldozer, using his big body to shield defenders and make plays. Rivers, a notorious risk-taker, will have a lot of fun throwing Cantrell’s way. As a blocker, Cantrell was among the best in his draft class.
Taking Cantrell in the sixth round is further evidence that the Chargers are going to rely on the physical receivers and the tall guys. Mike Williams perfectly fits the role and can thrive in this offense as he once played it at Clemson. With Tom Telesco’s streak of drafting good players in the first round, we should expect big things from No. 81. We’ve seen it once before with Melvin Gordon, who came back with a vengeance in his sophomore season. If Mike Williams can step up, there is no reason he doesn’t have a breakout year.