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Mike Williams is everything you want in an 1st-round wide receiver ... almost

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He’s not a perfect prospect, but you’ll have plenty to be happy about if your team takes the Clemson wide receiver early in the first round.

CFP National Championship Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

My comparison for Mike Williams is Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, a guy I am very familiar with. Not that I think Williams is exactly as good of a prospect as Evans was. Nor am I saying that they are exactly alike physically, but there are similarities.

Evans was a little heavier at 231 pounds and taller at 6'5. He could jump a little higher with a 37-inch vertical, he had longer arms at 35 1/8 inches and somewhat bigger hands at 9 5/8 inches as well. On the field, I thought Evans was both a bit more explosive straight down the field and that his hands were also stronger than what I saw from Williams in five games.

However ...

Williams isn't that much lighter at 218 pounds, nor that much shorter at 6'3 1/2". Williams’ vertical was only 32.5 inches, but he showed on tape that he can go up and get a jump ball if you throw it in his vicinity. And with Williams’ arms being 33 3/8 inches long and his hands 9 3/8 inches wide, he isn't that far off from Evans in those respects either.

Oh, and they both ran the 40 with identical times of 4.53

Now as far as Williams' hands not being quite as strong as Evans, let’s first touch and agree that Evans’ hands are ridiculously strong.

Yeah, yeah, I know folks kept focusing on his drops two years ago. I tried to fight the good fight of pointing out to those same folks that a lot of those drops came in a rainy game in Tampa against the Giants where he still ended up with over 200 yards receiving in a losing effort, but narratives gonna narrative. His performance last season should have put to bed any lingering stupidity over how strong that kid’s hands are.

Saying Williams' hands aren't as strong as Evans’ is a really high bar in the first place. If I have any criticism of Williams at all, and this is really about the only one, it’s that he had so many almost ridiculous plays in those five games. What I mean is that there were plays where if he squeezed the ball a little bit tighter, he would've had even more highlight reel plays.

When I watched Evans' film four years ago I distinctly remember him just snatching the ball out of the air at times. Then you have guys like Odell Beckham Jr. who make those one-handed circus catches on a regular basis. I just didn't see that kind of superstar hand strength from Williams.

The good news is that he can get his hands stronger.

The key to me is whether or not a receiver’s hands are in good position to make a catch in the first place. And that's what makes Williams such a good prospect and why he reminds me so much of Evans. They both have this uncanny ability to track the football in the air, even when the trajectory is a little off.

His hands may not be at Evans’ level, but Williams’ hand-eye coordination is fantastic. His hands are almost always in the right position to make a catch, which is something that you might remember from my Will Fuller breakdown last year is a BFD for me (Aye, anybody compared Fuller's rookie year with Ted Ginn Jr's lately?)

But at times, his hands failed him.

That's not much of a deal breaker for me because, once again, he can get his hands stronger.

Strong hands or not, Williams showed the ability to consistently dominate in all five games that I watched.

He had a total of 33 catches in those games, and a full third of them went for 20 yards or more, which is how I define big plays (probably that old defensive lineman in me).

He may have only caught two touchdowns in those five games, but he also forced that pass interference at the end of the National Championship game against Alabama to help Clemson win right at the end of regulation.

And the clinching two-point try in the FSU game.

It’s also notable that eight of his catches went for third-down conversions.

What jumped off the tape about Williams is that when he had a jump ball opportunity on one of those back shoulder fades everyone loves to throw these days, the defensive back basically didn't matter.

The only real factors in determining the success or failure of those plays was usually whether Deshaun Watson threw an accurate pass.

And whether or not his hands failed him.

Williams appeared to be so physically imposing against pretty much every defensive back he faced, that if the ball was anywhere in the vicinity, he was almost assured of an opportunity to catch it without much resistance.

He made some positively splendiferous catches on those back shoulder fade opportunities, and almost every single time the defensive back looked positively helpless in trying to affect the outcome.

You could almost hear these cats screaming "HALP!" on some of these plays.

That high-level ability to come down with 50/50 balls should certainly transfer over on the next level. We have seen an increasing number of teams become steadily more reliant on tall wide receivers and those kinds of throws to move the ball down the field.

I know it drives some of my draft Twitter buddies crazy to see all the back shoulder fades in the red zone these days, but if you have a guy like Evans or Williams, those throws end up being caught or at least generate a defensive pass interference or illegal contact call at a percentage that makes them an attractive option.

Williams would fit perfectly in that role, just as Evans has for the Bucs.

Williams’ 4.5-second 40 time he showed that he definitely has enough speed to get down the field for deep balls, like Evans. Clemson didn't ask him to do that a lot in the five games I used for this breakdown.

Williams also has a knack for knowing how to use his hands to create separation right before the ball arrives without getting called for OPI. That will help him create chunk plays in the NFL as well.

That's actually something that it took Evans awhile to figure out and one of the few areas where Williams may actually have an advantage over Evans as a prospect.

Don't get me wrong, while the chunk plays are great, what you are really getting with Williams is a guy who showed he can do everything you would want an outside wide receiver to do in the NFL. Especially if you are looking to use a guy like the Bucs use Evans.

He didn't play much in the slot, so I didn't really see what he could do there. I feel confident that if a team wanted to use him in the slot like the Cardinals do with Larry Fitzgerald from time to time, Williams would be able to do that kind of stuff, too.

If he goes to a good organization with a good receivers coach? It’s a wrap.

Williams just doesn't have many holes as a big wide receiver.

He's very physical and has no problem catching stuff like slants in traffic and holding onto the ball after taking big hits. He is sudden enough to get open on those plays, even against press coverage. That means at the very least you would be drafting a guy who can move the sticks on a regular basis, a la Cris Carter.

Considering that Carter ended up having a Hall of Fame career, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

Factor in Williams' ability to run after the catch, and you have a guy who can take that 5-yard slant, break a tackle or two with his physicality, and end up turning it into a big play.

Now, he isn't the kind of player that you run a lot of reverses and stuff with; he isn't quite that shifty. But Williams still has the ability to make a lot out of a little, which helps to lower the likelihood that he will end up being a bust, barring injury.

Maybe he didn't run a full route tree — what does that even consist of these days, anyway? — but hell, who still does in college, anyway? All I know is I haven't seen Evans run a route in three years that I think Williams would struggle with. That's enough for me, Holmes.

With his size, athleticism, and ability to track the ball, that would probably be enough for me to feel confident in saying that Williams is a first-round prospect. Add in his ability to make it look so easy on those back shoulder fades, and now I'm talking about the top half of the first round.

I know some folks don't care much about receivers blocking, and I admit its not my top priority for prospects either (although I do personally love to see the more physical ones get busy like Laquon Treadwell last year). I didn't see Williams burying corners the way Evans did his last year in college (and has continued to do as a pro), but I did see Williams make a lot of physical, effective blocks on the edge to help get his running backs to the corner. His physicality in everything he does is something that impressed me as well.

If Williams can get his hands just a little bit stronger that dude is going to be a fucking superstar! Even if he can't, Williams is going to pose the kind of threat to opposing offenses that forces defensive coordinators to account for him. Even if you are still somehow worried about his speed after he already ran the 4.5, he’s still worth a first-round pick because of the chunk plays he can get you on those 50/50 balls.

Much like Mike Evans.

Mike Williams may not literally be Mike Evans as a prospect, but your team's offensive coordinator should be able to use him in a very similar fashion, for close to the same production as the Bucs have had with Evans over the last three seasons, the most recent of which ended with a Pro Bowl nod.

If you look at Evans’ career so far and you figure you'd like to have a guy like that on your team, then I think you will love to see your team select Williams in early on the first night of the draft.

Williams is the first wide receiver I've broken down this spring, so I can't say whether or not he is the best of this new crop. I still feel comfortable saying that if a team near the top of the draft needs a wide receiver, they probably couldn't do much better than Williams this year.

In three years if we are talking about Williams like we are talking about Evans now, I don't think the fans of the team who drafted him will be complaining.

Since I don't have access to all-22 for college football games, I use the next best thing for my draft profiles and go to Draft Breakdown where they the TV copy for a bunch of top prospects' already cut up and ready to go. Also, their site is compatible with the new NoHuddle app which turns your cell phone into a "cowboy clicker," which is pretty damn neat. For the purposes of this breakdown I watched Williams play against Auburn, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Alabama. Those represented the first, fifth, eighth (after an off week), thirteenth and fifteenth games on Clemson's schedule last season, respectively.