It’s easy to get excited about top offensive playmakers. It’s easy to look at gaudy numbers and highlight reel plays and see just how good a “blue chip” prospect is.
But what if you can’t get one of those guys?
The New York Giants likely want to come away from the 2021 NFL Draft with one of the top receivers in the draft. But there are 10 teams picking ahead of them and a draft dynamic which seems to be getting more fluid by the day. And even if the Giants are able to secure a top receiver, it’s also possible that the receiver-hungry Giants could look to double-dip at the position and turn a weakness into a strength.
Either way, it makes sense to be aware of the receivers down the draft board this year. Auburn receiver Seth Williams looks like a prototypical “X” receiver, and came into the season as one of the top receivers on the draft board. But a down year (due in part to frustrating quarterback play) for Williams and Auburn alike, have tarnished his once rising star.
But does that just mean that he’s a sleeper waiting to wake up in the NFL?
Prospect: Seth Williams
Games Watched: vs. Oregon (2019), vs. LSU (2019), vs. Alabama (2019), vs. Kentucky (2020)
Games Played: 33
Yards (YPC): 2,124 (16.1 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 17
Games Played (starts): 11
Yards (YPC): 760 (16.2 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 4
Best: Size, ball skills, physicality, play against zone coverage
Projection: A rotational X receiver with scheme versatility and starting upside.
Auburn’s Seth Williams is a big, strong, physical wide receiver prospect with the physical traits and ball skills to line up at the X position in the NFL.
Williams was usually aligned as the X receiver in Auburn’s offense, though he does have the ability and versatility to line up inside and play from the slot on occasion. He has the ability to use his size and strength to fight through press coverage, as well as some understanding of varying his footwork and route tempo to disrupt cornerbacks’ timing early in the play.
He does a good job of pressing his stem vertically into the defensive back, and shows surprising stop-start quickness to create separation out of his breaks. This is particularly true on comeback or curl routes, in which Williams is able to quickly stop and turn back from the ball, usually creating a sizable cushion between himself and the receiver. Williams is a willing receiver over the middle and is unafraid of contact when making catches.
He is generally good against zone coverage, with a solid understanding of coverage concepts. Williams is consistently able to find and settle in voids in zone coverage, presenting a reliable target for his quarterback.
Williams shows good ball skills down the field, with the ability to locate, track, and adjust to the ball in the air. He is a natural hands catcher who seldom double-catches or lets the ball into his body. Williams also shows fantastic concentration at the catch point and is difficult to disrupt. He makes full use of his size and strength in contested catch situations, putting his big frame between the ball and defender, as well as using big, powerful hands to clamp down on the ball.
Williams is also a very good blocker for a wide receiver. He shows complete willingness to engage with defenders, the strength to match up with nearly any defender, and is doggedly competitive in sustaining his blocks.
While Williams can stop and start relatively quickly, he is not truly agile. He won’t be able to beat tight man coverage with agility and coaches will want to improve his hand usage at the line of scrimmage and at the top of routes. His routes can be rounded at the tip and he lacks the ability to make would-be tacklers miss. Williams is a threat down the field with his size and ball skills, he has only average speed which is based more on his stride length than frequency. He lacks explosive acceleration off the line of scrimmage or out of his breaks.
Finally, while Williams is a physical and competitive player, he has a noticeable tendency to throttle down when the ball is going to another area of the field. It would be nice to see more consistent effort when he isn’t in the progression or a run play goes to the other side of the offense.
Overall Grade: 7.2 - Williams has starting upside and should be a contributor early in his career. However, he has some definite faults which will need to be coached up or schemed around if necessary.
Auburn wide receiver Seth Williams projects as a rotational wide receiver who lines up in the X position in three or four-receiver sets early in his career. He could develop into an every-down starter early in his career, but that isn’t assured at this point.
Teams will want to get Williams on the field early, however, to make use of his size, strength, and ball skills in short yardage and red zone situations. He has the ability to win contested catches, as well as natural (and powerful) hands to secure the ball in traffic. Williams should also be an asset as a blocker in those situations as well.
As of now, Williams is more of a threat against zone coverage — with a good ability to find and occupy voids in coverage zones — than he is against man coverage. While he has very good play strength and contact balance to fight through tight man coverage, teams will want to work with him early in his career to make full use of his physical traits to be a consistent threat against all types of coverage.
It is entirely possible that Williams’ best football is ahead of him and he could explode at the NFL level. Auburn’s scheme and quarterback play made evaluating Williams frustrating at times, as passes were often late or (very) poorly placed. Likewise, Auburn’s offensive scheme didn’t put receivers in the best position to show their full range of skills.
It is very possible that Williams has untapped starting upside which was (partly) obscured by his circumstances.