By now the average NFL fan is well-versed in many of the names the Detroit Lions will consider with their early picks. But there is a lot more to the draft than what will happen on day one or even two. One of the players that will likely get drafted on day three was in town to visit with the Lions last week, let’s take a look:
Michael Williams, TE, Alabama
Weight: 278 lbs.
40 Yard Dash: 5.19 sec
Vertical Jump: 25.5″
Broad Jump: 8’0″
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.90 sec
3-Cone Drill: 8.15 sec
At first glance, you might mistake Williams for an offensive tackle. His huge frame comes at the expense of the type of speed that allows many tight ends in today’s NFL to become down-field threats in the passing game. Still, Williams is a reliable receiver when given the opportunity and would give Matthew Stafford another big target in the red zone.
In addition to a solid set of hands, Williams can contribute in the running game as well as his biggest strength is his run blocking. He got plenty of practice at Alabama helping to clear the way for the likes of Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Williams would allow the Lions to run a lot of the same packages they ran last year with Riley Reiff as a jumbo tight end.
The Detroit Lions appear set at tight end for at least the upcoming year with Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler playing major roles. But the Lions have also found ways to use Will Heller as an H-back role as their third tight end. With Williams, the Lions have an opportunity to get younger, more skilled and save some cap space over Will Heller who is one of the many Lions players that became free agents at the start of the new league year. Williams played a bit of an H-back role at Alabama and also played special teams so he is used to doing the kind of things the Lions would be looking for if they were to draft him later this month. The Lions connection goes beyond last week’s visit. The coaching staff got a chance to work with Williams during Senior Bowl week.
Even with a veteran’s discount, Heller counted $605,000 against the Lions 2012 salary cap. For the sake of comparison James Hanna – a tight end the Cowboys drafted in the sixth round last year – carried a cap hit of less than $420,000. It might not sound like a lot of savings, but every dollar counts for a team like the Lions looking to maximize their impact with what little salary cap space they have left.
What you see is what you get with Williams and there may not be much more of a ceiling in terms of his development. That isn’t necessarily a problem considering it is easy to see right away how he could step in and contribute doing a lot of the things the Lions have done over the last couple years. A realistic projection for where Williams might be drafted is the sixth round according to various opinions around the web.
What do you think about Michael Williams as a late round option for the Lions in the 2012 NFL Draft?