Monday, April 20, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #73 - Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota

http://cowboysblog.dallasnews.com/2015/04/2015-nfl-draft-profile-maxx-williams-te-minnesota.html/

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota - 6'4, 249 - RS Sophomore - 4.78 40
Maxx Williams #88 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers celebrates after scoring a one yard touchdown during the third quarter of the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Maxx Williams #88 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers celebrates after scoring a one yard touchdown during the third quarter of the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Each position group will have some ups and downs to say the least with regards to the relative strength on a draft to draft basis.  Some years a group is loaded and other years it is pretty thin.  Well, at the Tight End spot, you would call this the thin side of things as there might only be one player (possibly two) in the Top 100 prospects.
But, let's not let that overall view of the group cloud our vision when it comes to the belle of the ball.  Maxx Williams, the very young prospect from Minnesota - he was 20 until last week - has risen into the mix for Round 1 after a year that saw him on the All-American team and the highlights on Sportscenter for his ability to turn in catches that dazzled.  He is not ideal height or weight for the tight end spot, but he has a skill set that is based on the overall ability to catch anything and everything close to him.
He is from a football family as his grandfather and his father both played in the NFL and his father Brian also went to Minnesota and was drafted in Round 1 of the 1989 draft by the Giants.  He could join a very select class of the Mannings (Archie and Eli) and the Matthews (Clay and Clay) to both be selected in Round 1 from the same school.  So, is he a 1st rounder?  We looked at the Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri games (Citrus Bowl) to examine.
Williams wears #88 for the Gophers:
What I liked:  When you look at the great tight ends in the NFL, they all have the ability to combine power and finesse in a way that makes them difficult to deal with.  They can block and they can run.  They can get underneath or down the seam.  Williams has great hands and good separation skills, even though he is not a burner by any stretch of the imagination.  But, his best trait is his hands.  He is just so good at catching the ball that you only have to get in the relative vicinity.  That is good, by the way, because he has never really played with exceptional QB play.  If he is matched up with a solid NFL passer, you can really imagine how productive he can be.  He is fantastic downfield, although he is not going to run away from anyone.  But, this guy looks like a very young version of Dallas' hero, Jason Witten.  Witten also entered the league at a very young age and is still going.  Below, see Williams show the needed athleticism to put a dazzling play in the end zone in his bowl game.  He can play in the slot, in the backfield, or inline.  He is a willing blocker, but he may never be great there.
What I did not like:  Witten was 6'6.  Williams is 6'4.  He also ran a 4.78 which did not make any jaws drop (Witten ran a 4.65, if you are curious).  He also barely weighs 250 so we have to imagine what he might become by age 23 after some time in a NFL weight room.  He just doesn't have the ideal traits in today's NFL where the tight ends are absolute physical freaks, Maxx might be one that still is going to have to deal with people wondering if his ceiling is not high enough to spend a 1st round pick on.  Average blocking and average speed will be the two knocks on him that bring out the doubters.

Summary:  There may not be many elite tight end prospects this year, but this one in particular is a real impressive kid who looks like he can be a red zone threat and an open field issue.  The idea of balancing up your offense is what makes teams target versatile threats like Williams at this spot and the lack of tight ends in this draft could move him off the board relatively early in the mix.  He sure appears to be the type of talent that can grow into something pretty special as his career moves on.  He is not the "can't miss" type that requires Top 10 consideration like Vernon Davis, but he surely is a guy most observers would have to expect to play a decade in the NFL as a very strong starter.  I think he has put enough stunning moments on tape that he should be comfortable sitting in the green room at the draft if he chooses.
And, if you don't mind, please check out the Bob and Dan (BaD) Radio show in Dallas-Fort Worth, from 12p-3p, Monday-Friday, on Sportsradio 1310 and 96.7fm, The Ticket.  www.theticket.com 

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