One of the first things any scouting report of new Detroit Lions receiver Tyrell Williams is going to note is his ability to catch a deep pass.
Regularly among the league leaders with the average depth of his targets, and the recipient of 17 grabs of at least 40 yards during his career, including three touchdowns of at least 75, he truly has the ability to take the top off a defense.
But Williams believes he’s more than a deep threat, which is a big part of the reason he signed a one-year deal with the Lions, where he’s primed to end the week as the franchise’s No. 1 receiving option once free agent Kenny Golladay signs with another team.
“I love being able to stretch the field,” Williams said during a Monday video conference with local reporters. “I love being that deep-threat guy. One of the big reasons I wanted to come here too, though, is they see me as a guy being able to run the whole route tree and run intermediate stuff, the crossing routes, all that stuff. …Being able to do both is going to be awesome.”
Williams 29, missed last season with a torn labrum. It was the first time he’s been sidelined extensive time by an injury in his six-year career. He’s now five months removed from his shoulder surgery and nearly back to full strength as the start of the offseason program nears.
“I’m probably about 95%,” Williams said. “I’ve been catching passes. I’ve been running routes and doing all that stuff and getting back to my normal offseason routine. I feel good. I feel strong. I feel like if we had a game next week, I’d be out there, so I feel great.”
Williams was released by the Oakland Raiders this offseason, two years into a four-year contract he signed with the franchise in 2019. Prior to that, Williams played his first three seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, including the final two under coach Anthony Lynn.
The opportunity to reunite with Lynn, who signed on to coordinator Detroit’s offense this offseason, was another lure to sign with the Lions for Williams.
“I’m excited to be around him again,” Williams said. “He’s a great leader. He’s been a great coach. Just being able to be around guys like that — former players that are coaches now, being around those type of guys is something that I really like. I think he did a great job at being the head coach and I think he’ll do a great job being a coordinator. I’m excited for the scheme and the offense that he’s going to bring.”
Williams will also have former players for his position coach in Antwaan Randle El and head coach Dan Campbell. Like Lynn, Campbell was a draw for the receiver.
“A guy who has that much energy, is that excited and loves football that much, I mean it’s going to be awesome to be around that energy every day,” Williams said. “The season can be long when you get into Week 14, 16, so having a guy like that, who keeps you motivated, keeps you energized is going to be awesome.”
Undrafted out of Western in Oregon in 2015, Williams has appeared in 69 games, catching 131 passes for 3,181 yards and 23 touchdowns. He’s a few years removed from his best season, when he topped 1,000 yards and hauled in seven scores in 2016. He’ll be looking to regain that form in Detroit.
“I feel like ever since I came into the league, I’ve prided myself on just being a playmaker,” he said. “Whether that’s a deep ball, whether that’s a third-and-2 and making the contested slant catch, I just feel like I’m a playmaker. When we need a play, we need something to happen, we need a little energy, I feel I’ve always been that guy through my career.”