UPDATED 11:15 A.M.: With the 101st pick in the 2010 NFL Draft the Bucs drafted Syracuse wideout Mike Williams, who has first-round talent. The selection of Williams comes on the heels of drafting Illinois WR Arrelious Benn in round two. At Syracuse, Williams had off-field issues with academic suspensions.
The Buccaneers continued to address the wide receiver position in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. After selecting Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn in the second round, Tampa Bay drafted Syracuse wideout Mike Williams with the 101st pick. The 6-foot-1, 212-pound Williams is a highly talented player that has produced when he played football. What pushed Williams down in the draft is his off-field issues.
Williams does have some character concerns over multiple suspensions at Syracuse and the fact that he quit the football team in advance of another suspension, but reports say the Bucs were one of 10 teams at his pro day and he was brought in for a visit earlier this month. Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said that Williams, who has first-round talent, has been thoroughly vetted by the team.
“I believe that as a scouting staff and an organization that we put the most time into this player – more than anybody,” Dominik said. “It was that important. He was one of the 30 visits to this organization so we could spend a full day with him. I’ve had multiple conversations with Doug Marrone, the head football coach at Syracuse University. At the end of the day I feel very good about our selection and the talent he brings. I wouldn’t bring somebody in here if I didn’t feel comfortable about it. There is a balance in everything. This kid, when you go back and do your research on this kid and take a look at what is in his past – no aggravated assaults. The only thing I can tell you is that he had a speeding ticket. Other than that, this kid did make a mistake in terms of what happened with the Syracuse football team and he regrets it. We spent countless hours with him at the Combine, here and we went to his workout. We went to his private workout. I don’t think anybody spent more time on this kid than the Buccaneers did and I think we’re going to reap the rewards for it.”
Dominik addressed the media after the Williams' selection and discussed the new Bucs receiver's suspensions at Syracuse.
“He got in an accident in college and he was late for curfew,” Dominik said. “That’s against the rules at Syracuse. That was the beginning of what happened. If Coach Marrone wants to talk about it further, that’s up to him. To me, that’s a matter with Syracuse. Here’s a kid that missed a year because of academics. He did the work at junior college. He could have gone to any Division I-AA program, but he wanted to go back to Syracuse. He did all the work to get his grades back up. He got back to Syracuse and with three games remaining he made a poor choice. I’m not going to debate that, and I think he paid the price for dropping all the way to the fourth because the guy is a first- or second-round talent, especially at the position. There is a balance to me about everything. This is one of those guys. We have a plan for this guy.
“We have Eric Yarber, who will be his position coach. Eric Yarber has been a fantastic college football coach. He’s coached in the National Football League. He’s coached T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. He’s handled some interesting guys and coached them all. If you were to call each one of those individual players and ask them about Eric Yarber, they are going to explain to you how great of a coach he is and how he really can be a mentor. That’s his guy. I believe Eric Yarber can do it. He’s very excited about this selection.”
Williams has been a starter since his freshman year, and in his three-year career with the Orangemen, he caught 133 passes for 2,044 yards and scored 20 touchdowns in 29 games. In 2009, Williams had two phenomenal games before quitting the team midseason. Against Northwestern he racked up 209 yards and two TDs on 11 catches and had a career-high 13 catches for 186 yards and two scores against South Florida. Williams has the potential to be a number one receiver in the NFL due to his athleticism and run after catch ability.
Last year, Williams played in eight games and had 49 catches for 746 yards (15 yards per catch) and six touchdowns. As a freshman Williams led Syracuse in receiving. Williams had 24 catches for 461 yards and four touchdowns. His best games that season were a three catch 99-yard game with one touchdown at West Virginia. A week later against Louisville, Williams had five receptions for 98 yards and a score.
In his sophomore season, Williams caught 60 passes for 837 yards and 10 touchdowns. Against Buffalo, Williams had seven receptions for 113 yards and one touchdown. In the final game of the year against Cincinnati, Williams had nine receptions for 160 yards and one touchdown. Williams was a second-team All Big East selection. Football people around Syracuse said that he was one of the best athletes the team has had in the last 15 years.
“This kid is extremely competitive,” Dominik said. “You are going to see a very excitable, very competitive football player. This is a kid that when you watch the highlight reels, that when the quarterback throws an interception he actually makes two tackles on interceptions. That shows you how competitive a guy he is. He loves it. He loves football. We’re very confident about that.”
Leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft, Williams reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds at his pro-day, and he benched pressed 225 pounds 19 times. At the combine Williams ran the The Buccaneers are looking for explosive playmakers, and Williams is considered to be one of the best big play producers in this draft. Williams is considered to have first-round talent, but the off the field issues were a major concern to NFL teams.
Williams is the second fourth-round pick the Bucs have taken out of Syracuse in the last four drafts. In 2007, Tampa Bay selected safety Tanard Jackson out of Syracuse. Jackson had some character concerns leading up to the draft. Jackson has been a three-year starter and productive player for Tampa Bay, but Jackson was suspended for four games to start the 2009 season due to violating the league's substance abuse policy.
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