It feels obvious, but the pressure on Jameson Williams when he comes back from his suspension has been further confirmed.
The Detroit Lions knew what they were getting into off the bat when they drafted Jameson Williams 12th overall in the 2022 draft. Coming off a torn ACL in his final college game, his rookie season was going to be an injury recovery-forced mulligan and whatever he did on the field would be a tease of his potential.
Expectations were naturally set higher for Williams moving toward his second season, That came to a screeching hault in April, when he was the headliner of five players (and four Lions) suspended for violating the NFL's gambling policy. He will serve a six-game suspension to start the season, with a return in Week 7 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Williams, at best now, will play 17 of a possible 32 games over his first two NFL seasons. It's safe to say he'll be given every chance to have a prominent role when he's eligible to play. The easy and obvious sentiment is he better be ready, and hit the ground running (literally and figuratively) when he's able to take the field this season.
Pressure on Jameson Williams when he's back from suspension reinforced and further confirmed
Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus has Williams on his list of 10 second-year players under pressure to perform in 2023.
"Williams was limited to just 37 receiving snaps as a rookie, which wasn’t unexpected given that he was coming off a serious knee injury at the end of his college career. But his place on this list has less to do with that than the fact he will miss the first six games of the 2023 season due to a suspension. That puts pressure on him to perform immediately when returns to the field, hoping to avoid coming out of his first two seasons with little production to show for it, even if a lot of that is down to bad luck."
The gambling suspension can be taken issue with in a big picture, league-wide sense. But Williams' plea of complete ignorance to the policy lands on the wrong side of believable, even if the Lions lacked strength in broadly educating about the gambling rules. So the "a lot of that is down to bad luck" that McGuinness expressed should only include the knee injury.
Williams had pressure to perform going into his second season no matter what, without the suspension that came. The suspension ramped the pressure up, with a truncated number of games he'll now play this year. We'll see if he steps up and meets the pressure, or wilts under the weight of it.