Friday, May 17, 2013

Draft Profile: Rd 3 - Terrance Williams - WR - Baylor

The following is the 3rd in a series of draft profiles for the Dallas Cowboys' selected players from April's draft. These profiles are put together after watching significant amounts of game tape from each player, and is an attempt to examine their resumes and play to get an idea of how they might fit in best with Dallas come training camp in Oxnard this summer.

Terrance Williams
Wide Receiver
6'2, 208
40 time: 4.50, Bench Press: 11
September 18, 1989 (Age 23)

Football is a game of simple math.  Can you rush more players than they can block?  Can you put more receivers into a zone than they can defend?  Can you get more guys to the ball than they can deal with? This is the fun with numbers that are all over the game.  You have 11 and they have 11, but how do you deploy them to cause the opposition math issues?

Well, that leads us to the discussion of the Cowboys spending their 2nd pick on a 2nd tight end and their 3rd pick on a 3rd Wide Receiver.  I have heard some make the case that in the 2013 draft, in which the Cowboys desperately needed upgrades at several starting positions (Guard, Tackle, Center, Free Safety, Strong Safety, Outside Linebacker, and Defensive Tackle), they drafted for depth at skill positions who were in effect, reserves.

Now, nobody will complain about Gavin Escobar or Terrance Williams if there are injuries that push them onto the field (and there are always injuries).  Nor will anybody complain about training the understudies for Jason Witten and Miles Austin when the Cowboys replace those two veteran mainstays down the road when the salaries and the ability no longer is in the proper order.

But, for the time being - assuming that this draft wasn't just about contract flexibility in 2014 and 2015 and injury insurance for next fall - we must discuss the simple math elements of what the Cowboys decided to do a few weeks ago.  Essentially, they have taken the last skill position player that they can put on the field in 2 consecutive picks.

With 11 offensive players, with 5 being the offensive line and 1 being Tony Romo, you have 5 remaining spots to figure out in each down and distance (I realize this is extremely fundamental stuff, but stay with me).  Once you put DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant in their places, now you have 2 spots remaining.  Just about every package you design will have a spot for Miles Austin, a guy who has been very productive whenever he has been on the field both on deep passes and shallow throws.  He is a proper #2 WR in the NFL, provided those hamstrings behave.

So now, you have 1 spot left.  With Jerry Jones telling everyone who will listen that they are determined to make their "base" offense "12 Personnel", then this is settled.  Gavin Escobar will be on the field in all situations that are considered "base".  Then, on 3rd and long or in the 2-minute drill, we assume the Cowboys will go back to what we have become accustomed to for the last few years, "11 personnel".  11 is 3 WRs, 1 RB, 1 TE, and that is where Terrance Williams will start.

Williams is a prospect who has some very interesting versatility and ability and after looking at his game film on several of his games from the last few years, I am quite excited about where his career could go.  There is no question that he should be able to provide with the Cowboys with as deep a WR position as they have had in a very long time.  Even in 2011, when we all remember Laurent Robinson accomplishing so much, we were dealing with a young, developing Dez Bryant and an often injured Austin who missed a lot of time in the middle of the season.

In watching him do his thing for Baylor last season, there is all of the confidence of a big-time threat who fed off of the fear of his opposition.  Being a "big play" receiver, you can see that the Big 12 style of defending put him in a spot where he received a very big cushion and made the most of it.  I assume the first thing he will face at the next level will be "press coverage" to see how he likes fighting for his release, but at the college level, he was into his routes quickly and with great precision.

He is an exceptional route runner who gets out of his breaks and is where he is supposed to be.  He has strong body control and also uses his frame to gain position on inside routes with ease at the college level.  I have heard plenty about the feeling that he is an outside receiver first and foremost, and I can see why that is said.  He is fantastic against the sideline and catches those balls over his shoulder like a natural.  He also runs the post routes with the type of speed that will crush safeties that bite on a run-fake.

But, I don't want to undervalue his "slot" potential as well.  He may not be your first choice, but he lined up in many spots and the inside slot play is not against his film, either.  He can do many things out there and although he may not have quite the upside as a guy like Dez, I really think that Terrance will do very well in the NFL.

The thing that sticks out as you watch him play is his confidence level and his swagger.  He has been successful with 2 different QBs at Baylor, with RG3 in 2011, he had 11 touchdowns and 957 yards.  Then, the next year after Griffin and Kendall Wright were both 1st Round picks, with Nick Florence slinging the ball, he had 1832 yards and 12 touchdowns at a stunning 19 yards per reception.

He knew he could dominate games and was ready to do just that.  You love to see that from a player when observing his game, and that trait is a must to be ready to battle NFL corners for your space.

Now, let's visit about the concerns that allowed him to drop to #74.  He is more of a "body catcher" than a "hands catcher" which is an issue at the NFL level because when you come out of your break, corners will close on your back and be able to jar loose balls with arms around if you don't go meet the ball with extended arms toward the QB.  He had that happen on Saturdays, and that will need to be cleaned up.

He also would run crossing patterns with great resolve on most occasions, but I did seem him bail out when his peripheral vision saw a safety coming or he heard the footsteps.  I don't think this is an issue that saw him drop, but rather just something to notate.

He is a willing downfield blocker and a strong kid.  When people ask why he dropped into the mid 3rd round when some thought he could go early in round 2, I feel it is mostly because WR was a very deep position in the draft and there was no reason to rush to take one when other positions were in shorter supply.

Here is some video to look at, if you haven't already seen it:

Williams #2 vs Texas Tech

vs West Virginia

Summary:  Again, there are a few conversations that happen simultaneously when discussing the picks of Escobar and Williams.  Is Williams a terrific prospect that I am excited about?  Absolutely.  Does his selection make sense if they have no room for him on the field?  That is where it gets cloudier, because once they declare they are a 2-tight end offense, you pretty much indicate that a 3rd Wide Receiver is not a regular.  Sure, you can design special packages for him, but if his upside in 2013 is 15 snaps and covering punts and kickoffs, you wonder if that is a smart use of limited resources.

On the other hand, with Bryant and Austin having issues playing 16 games at optimum health, the idea of having a very capable backup in reserve is a far cry from going to camp with no idea who will be your #3 like last year.  Even if you like what Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley brought to the table, we must remember that they played very little.  They might be perfect for this role - given that 2 TEs takes away the need for a 3rd WR, but with John Phillips and Kevin Ogletree in those spots instead of Gavin Escobar and Terrance Williams, you can see how the team looks so much better on paper.

He will be the other side of the trade from Sharrif Floyd when you couple Travis Frederick and Williams together instead of the defensive tackle.  Pop on his tape for a few seconds and you can understand why they were fired up to get their hands on him, a full round later than they expected to have a shot at him.

His development will be monitored closely in 2013, and if it goes well, he might be promoted to the man opposite Dez for years to come in 2014.  In the meantime, we certainly cannot say they didn't try to give Romo plenty of targets in 2013.

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