A few years ago, Jameson Williams was a curiosity. He was buried on Ohio State’s wide receiver depth chart behind a deep corps that featured Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. He has some interesting Philadelphia ties, too. He’s being compared by some draft experts to former Roman Catholic star Will Fuller, and left Ohio State to transfer to Alabama, after St. Joseph Prep star Marvin Harrison Jr. committed to the Buckeyes and quickly rose up the depth chart, causing Williams to fear he would have less playing time.
Williams blossomed at Alabama. The Crimson Tide coaching staff certainly saw something in the 6’1½”, 179-pound receiver that the Ohio State staff did not. Last season, Williams caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and tied for third in the nation with 15 receiving touchdowns in 15 starts.
He was named a first-team AP All-American, first-team All-SEC and Co-SEC Special Teams Player of the Year.
When it looked like he was a definite first-round pick, Williams suffered a torn ACL in his left knee after hauling in a 40-yard reception from Bryce Young in the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship on January 10, 2022.
Strengths: He possesses great athleticism and can stretch the field, manifesting itself in an FBS-best 11 touchdowns of 30-plus yards in 2021. He can separate from defensive backs and has the versatility to return kicks, returning two for TDs last season. He has shown the ability to get up and snare high passes.
Weaknesses: The injury places a lot into question. Before the injury, there were questions about his ability to get away from press coverage, since he is on the lean side, and with his long stride, will he need extra time to get out of breaks. Obviously, the biggest question is whether he’s the same athlete after the injury.
Will he be there for the Eagles: By all projections, Williams should be there at 15 or 18 for the Eagles. The question for the Eagles: Is Williams worth the risk? This is a team still rebuilding. The Eagles will need every game. It’s not a team that can get away with forming and remaining competitive among the NFL’s elite as the season progresses. Williams may not be ready to play until possibly mid-October. For a team with an established foundation, selecting Williams would work. For the Eagles, who need as much immediate help as they could get, it may not. Is it a risk worth taking?
The Eagles and general manager Howie Roseman do have a history of taking those risks.
It worked well recently, when they drafted Landon Dickerson in the second round (37th overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft. Dickerson had an injury history, suffering a knee injury and was able to see an NFL field and start by September. In 2017, they drafted defensive back Sidney Jones, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon. That didn’t work out as well.
“I think the more time you have between the injury and the draft, the more information you get,” Roseman said in addressing the media on Wednesday, April 20. “With Landon, the timing of that was a little different than the timing with Sidney, and it allowed you to see more of the progress of where it was based on the testing. Obviously, two different positions and two different injuries, and so you take that all into account when you’re looking at it.”
Should the Eagles draft Jameson Williams?
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Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.