Jameson Williams: What to know about the Detroit Lions’ new ‘game-changer’

Detroit Free Press

One shot of Jameson, coming right up.

The Detroit Lions made one of the biggest trades of the first round, moving up 20 spots to draft stand out wide receiver Jameson Willams from Alabama. Let’s get to know him a bit better.

He bet on himself

Jameson Williams was a part of one of the most loaded wide receiver squads in NCAA history at Ohio State. Williams played his first two seasons in Columbus before transferring to Tuscaloosa as a junior.

As a Buckeye, he shared a receiver room with Chris Olave (the No. 10 overall pick by the New York Jets on Thursday) and Garrett Wilson (the No. 11 overall pick by the New Orleans Saints) as well as Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who currently projects as the top receiver in the 2023 NFL draft.

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EXPERTS CHIME IN: ‘One big play after another’: What they say about Williams

But after not putting up the numbers he hoped for in his first two seasons — 15 total catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns — he decided to leave. But reports say — and the social media of Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah confirms — he left on positive terms.

How concerning is the ACL?

In two words: Not very.

Yes, it’s a major injury, one that often keeps players out for 6-9 months. Williams was injured during the Crimson Tide’s loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff title game on Jan. 10.

That means Williams could miss OTAs, training camp, the preseason and even potentially regular-season games. But the Lions’ move into the top 12 picks was a long-term play, and Williams told NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport he is healing ahead of schedule.

It’s one thing for a player to say that and another for a doctor to say that, but Boston-based injury analyst and sports medicine doctor Jessica Flynn suggest as much in her 2022 NFL draft guide.

“Objectively, this guy is a game-changer — his injury is not,” Flynn wrote. “Teams will not lose sleep over this injury.”

It’s all on tape

Williams, on the mend from that torn ACL, didn’t benefit in the way someone with his athleticism usually does, shining at the combine and putting up big numbers at a pro day.

Instead, he let the highlights do the talking, and they had plenty to say. Williams caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2021, averaging 19.9 yards per carry and leading the nation with four touchdowns of at least 70 yards.

Williams became the 13th Alabama receiver to finish with more than 1,000 receiving yards, finishing behind only DeVonta Smith (1,856 in 2020) and Amari Cooper (1,727 in 2014) in program history.

MORE ANALYSTS: Hutchinson pick gets rave reviews: ‘The top guy on my board’

A true athlete

In high school, Williams, who grew up in a track family in St. Louis, set the Missouri record in the 300meter hurdles.

You may have heard of the guy who previously held that title — Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Williams he could play on special teams as well for Detroit. He returned two kicks for scores at Alabama but also was ejected for targeting on special teams play against rival Auburn in November.

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