Of the new players on the Falcons roster in 2015, none may have surprised more than receiver Nick Williams. First, the Falcons decided to carry him as a 7th receiver and surprised fans further when he was active before rookie 4th rounder Justin Hardy. While he didn't light up the stat sheets, Williams showed he could be a contributor and he would even outlast former Washington teammate Leonard Hankerson. Let's take a look at his first season with the Falcons.
One catch per game
Lest we overstate Nick Williams contributions in 2015, let's be clear that he averaged about one catch per game. He finished the season with 17 receptions for 159 yards and 2 TDs. Also, it seemed like nearly every catch he pulled in was either a touchdown or a third down conversion - so his catches were often very meaningful in the context of a game. Even so, it was clear Williams was - at best - the fourth or fifth option in the offense, and he was surpassed once Justin Hardy had acclimated more to the NFL game as the season progressed.
But as a street free agent, Williams played well enough to warrant another look in 2016. While he's not likely going to be a 1000 yard receiver, he can still be a worthy contributor - especially if he can show the ability to contribute as a punt and/or kick-off returner.
Williams is set to make just $600,000 in the 2016 season with no bonuses or guarantees. The team can save the full 600k in cap space by cutting him. While 600k sounds like a fantastic amount of money to the rest of us mere mortals, it is peanuts compared to the average NFL salary. As with many other players, if Nick Williams doesn't make the roster in 2016, it won't be because of his compensation.
Outlook for 2016
At only 25 years old, Williams still has the potential to grow into a slightly bigger role with the Falcons. Any hopes that he'll be the next "Wes Welker" need to be tempered, but the 2015 season did show that he can contribute as a receiver. With guys like Eric Weems and Devin Hester both in their 30s, Nick Williams has an edge in both youth and his ability to contribute on offense. If he can flash the potential to contribute as a returner as well, Williams can likely find a spot on the 2016 roster yet again.
What are your thoughts on Nick "scrappy" Williams?