The NFL is days away from the start of free agency. Players can sign with their new teams on March 13th and the Colts can finally start dealing out over 100 million dollars in cap space. After a successful season that saw Andrew Luck return to form and the Colts return to the playoffs, it’ll be interesting to see which big name free agents are eager to join the team.
One of those big names is Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams. Williams is coming off of a relatively down year in 2018, notching only 653 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season. He did however hit his career high in catches, yards, and touchdowns in 2016 while playing under the Colts’ current offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni.
Williams is a talented wide receiver who was a bit overshadowed last season. Today we will be looking at the film to see what he could bring to the Colts’ offense and if they should pay the potential price for the free agent.
6’4” 205 pounds
40 Time: 4.43 / Vertical Jump: 39.5 inches / Broad Jump: 127 inches
Career Stats (NFL):
155 catches for 2,530 yards with a yards per catch of 16.3 and 17 touchdowns in four years in the NFL.
Deep Ball Ability
One major aspect missing from the Colts’ offense last season was another vertical threat to complement TY Hilton. Williams can not only get down the field but he can make plays.
Serving as the third receiver for the Chargers last season, he caught most of his downfield targets when given a chance. He caught passes of 30, 31, 45 (twice), 48, and 75 yards last year and made the most of his opportunities in that area of the game.
In this first clip, he is running a post up the seem against single man coverage. He closes the gap between the corner quickly and sets up the right with a little hesitation at the top of his stem. Before he breaks, he looks off the corner to the outside to set up the post. He finishes off the play by tracking the ball well over the shoulder and catching the pass through contact.
Another clip where Williams shows off his ability to eat up cushion and get up the field. He again runs his patented post play and creates separation at the top of his route. He then extends his arms well away from his frame and catches the touchdown in traffic. When given the opportunity down the field, Williams typically makes plays.
Last clip is probably the least impressive, despite it being his longest play of the season. He shows off his ability to get vertical and eat the cushion between himself and the cornerback. He then gets behind the cornerback when the corner hesitates on the underneath route. Williams is able to fly past him and pull away for the 75-yard touchdown. Although this was a blown coverage, his ability to hit the second gear and pull away from defenders is still impressive.
Ball Tracking/ Catch in Traffic
The biggest flaw that the Colts had with their receivers last year— before the Dontrell Inman signing— was their ability to make plays in traffic. Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers, and Ryan Grant really struggled with consistently tracking passes and making plays with defenders around them. Williams has no problems with that.
He is a big 6-4 receiver who can leap above corners to make plays in traffic. He also knows how to adjust and contort his body to make tough plays for his quarterback.
First clip is his highlight play of the season which again came against the Browns. He again runs his go-to post route and quickly gets up field towards the safety. As the ball is thrown, the underneath linebacker, outside cornerback, and over the top safety all converge on the ball with Williams and he is forced to make a tough catch with three defenders around him. In the end, he comes down with the touchdown.
This next clip is an excellent example of Williams’ ball tracking ability. He is initially running a go route from the slot but the corner sits on it. Recognizing this, Williams’ gets his head back to the quarterback for the potential back shoulder throw. Phillip Rivers trusts his guy and throws the back shoulder in traffic. Williams is able to adjust his body, square up to the pass, and make an impressive catch along the sidelines away from his body.
Again Williams is lined up in the slot and makes an excellent play on the ball. He fakes the slant route and runs a post just behind the linebacker in the middle of the field. Once he gets behind the defender, Rivers lofts the pass over the top. The throw is weak and Williams is forced to run under it. He times his slide perfectly and scoops up the pass for a big gain.
There are so weaknesses in Williams’ game. The major one is how he tends to disappear at times throughout the season. There are just some games where he is not a focus and that is not common for number two receivers. The stuff that I worry about are his struggles to create after the catch and his blocking.
First clip, Williams should create more yardage than he did. Williams runs a drag route out of mesh concept designed to create space. He catches the ball with the corner on his heels and gets run out of bounds for a short gain. Although he didn’t get many opportunities like this in the games I watched, he really struggled to create more yards than were given to him.
His blocking is very bad— hilariously bad— at times on film. This first clip he is motioned inside to chip a linebacker to allow Melvin Gordon to get to the edge. He takes a poor angle, misses the block twice, and then ends up running into Gordon as the play results in a loss. This play is really poor execution on a play the Colts run quite often.
Again, his blocking is just not up to par. On this reverse play he doesn’t line up his target well and misses the block entirely on the edge. He then grabs the corner to make matters worse which results in a big penalty that takes away a potential big gain.
Tyrell Williams is a very solid receiver who could fill a team’s number two role well. He may not be the most well rounded but he does excel at eating up cushion, working down the field, and catching tough passes in traffic. He would fit the Colts’ system really well and provide a big bodied deep receiver who can open up the field and create big plays.
The biggest question is if he is worth the likely cost. He’s could command up to 15 million dollars a year on the open market. Should the Colts pay the big price for a not as productive number two receiver? That is the tough question.
I think the would be worth the investment on a 2-3 year deal. The Colts have plenty of cap space to “overpay” for a number two receiver and he would provide an instant upgrade for the team. He would add a dynamic deep ball receiver who would open up the offense for Hilton or Ebron underneath. Add in his prior connections with Nick Sirianni and I think he’d be an excellent fit on the outside in this offense.