The 2022 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and the Atlanta Falcons have quickly become one of the most intriguing teams to watch in this year’s event. There are a number of ways the Falcons can go with their No. 8 overall pick, and they’ve got five of the top 82 picks in this draft.
In the lead-up to this important draft for Atlanta, we’re going to be providing our evaluations of some of the top prospects. For those unfamiliar with our process, we’re using Kevin Knight’s own grading system, which you can read about here. This system is still in development and minor tweaks may be made as more data is available.
Today’s prospect is Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams. He’s coming off of an ACL injury, which he sustained in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, but if Williams returns to form he could give NFL defenses nightmares. Williams profiles best as a No. 2 receiver for an offense, but his elite speed should make him a No. 1 threat.
WR | Jameson Williams | Alabama | #1
RAS: N/A (Didn’t run at the combine)
After transferring from Ohio State due to a lack of opportunities, Jameson Williams emerged as one of the most dangerous playmakers in college football as a junior in 2021. A torn ACL in the national championship may cause Williams to slip down draft boards, but his tape clearly shows the potential for him to become a similar type of weapon at the next level.
Even against NFL talent, Williams has field-tilting speed. Against both press and off coverage, Williams gets on a defensive back’s toes in an instant and stresses even the deepest coverages. That speed also makes Williams an asset on reverses and screens, and he was an accomplished kick returner during his lone season at Alabama. Early in his career, Williams projects as a vertical deep threat who can also take short passes the distance with enough space.
In some of the more technical aspects of receiving, Williams can use coaching at the next level. He’s got the raw athletic traits to become a great route-runner, but he currently shows some smaller details-related issues such as giving up on the route early or adjusting to underthrown passes. These are minor problems for an NFL staff, and Williams’ traits make him well worth that investment. He shows soft hands to pluck the ball out of the air and a big catch radius, especially when tracking the deep ball.
Williams’ injury at the end of the season could create hesitancy among some teams, and his slender frame may scare away others, but the potential is there for the Alabama star to become a game-changing presence who opens up the offense for the rest of his teammates.
Has the speed to take the top off of NFL defenses. Williams’s top-end speed shows up on deep routes, run-after-the-catch moments and during the separation phase of his intermediate routes. Defenses must have a plan for his speed on every snap.
Excelled as a kick returner for the Crimson Tide with two touchdowns. Displays smooth footwork when creating short-area separation. Clean cuts in and out of breaks, but his length shows itself at times with hard 90-degree cuts.
Catch Ability: 6
Williams tracks deep balls very well. Plucks the ball softly with deft hands and understands how to position himself to turn upfield fluidly. Some troubles with drops in heavily trafficked areas.
Route Running: 6
Superb speed manipulation on his deep routes. Complements top-end speed with sudden double moves. At his best when running vertically. Intermediate route effectiveness is there, but it could use the most work.
Needs to continue to build out his frame. Good height at 6 feet 1.5 inches to compete on high balls in the NFL. Weighs 179 pounds and will need to add size at the next level.
Fleet-footed enough to make press defenders pay. Devours cushions against off coverage and forces bail techniques early with his speed. Inside angles are sometimes too narrow against press.
Speed to reach the end zone on any given play. A threat with the ball in his hands as a screen player or on a reverse because of his acceleration. Good coordination and body control on jumps to high-point the ball.
Yards After Catch: 7
Tied for sixth in the nation with 9.3 yards after the catch per reception in 2021. Very few can catch Williams in a foot race. Sets up catches to maximize run-after-catch ability. Doesn’t have the size to break many tackles - has to rely on speed.
Outstanding production in 2021: 78 receptions, 1,561 yards and 15 touchdowns. One of the most electric players last season. Only 15 combined receptions in first two years at Ohio State, prompted his transfer to reach a cleaner depth chart. Suffered a torn ACL in the national championship.
Shows some willingness at times, but he generally doesn’t look for action. Will duck his head to lay his shoulder into the block, which caused some misses. Not enough size to be an effective blocker at the next level.
Athleticism: RAS N/A, 17/20
Williams’ injury prevented him from participating in any testing drills during the pre-draft process, so this is just an estimate. However, I used Garrett Wilson’s RAS of 7.7 as a rough template, because the two players are of similar size and athletic ability. Williams’ size also factored in negatively to this score.