Mike Williams Is a Surprising Pick for the Los Angeles Chargers

How will Mike Williams impact the Chargers' offense in 2017?

Following in the footsteps of former Clemson Tiger receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Williams is a first-round pick after getting taken seventh overall to the Los Angeles Chargers.

After dealing with a scary neck injury that kept him off the field for all but one game in 2015, he had a tremendous junior season -- the 6'4", 218-pound pass-catcher finished with 79 receptions, 1,114 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games.

As many noticed at the Combine, he struggled with the vertical (32.5 inches) and broad jump (121 inches), but at his height, having a big vertical isn't necessarily needed to catch the ball over defenders.

Using our Combine Tool, we can find Williams' top first-round comparables, dating back to 2009, given his Combine performance.

Year Player Round Percent Similar
2012 Michael Floyd Round 1, Pick 13 93.61%
2011 A.J. Green Round 1, Pick 4 92.07%
2012 Justin Blackmon Round 1, Pick 5 89.70%
2014 Kelvin Benjamin Round 1, Pick 28 89.06%
2014 Sammy Watkins Round 1, Pick 4 89.00%
2009 Kenny Britt Round 1, Pick 30 87.59%
2013 Deandre Hopkins Round 1, Pick 27 87.47%

His measurable statistics from the Combine and his pro day at Clemson make him comparable to fellow former first-rounders like A.J. Green, Michael Floyd, Kelvin Benjamin and Justin Blackmon. This is by no means suggesting Williams will be the next A.J. Green, but it gives us a baseline of who he compares to physically.

Williams, who performed a stellar 15 reps on the bench press, profiles as a big, physical receiver that can high point the ball and make catches in traffic. Although he lacks top-end speed to take the top off a defense, he can routinely be a physical pass-catcher over the middle of the field.

The Chargers In 2016

The Chargers surprisingly snagged the Clemson star and stacked on their already above-average receiving core. During the 2016 season, their pass-catchers hauled in 4,198 yards, which was good for eighth-best in the league.

Here is the raw statistical breakdown of the top Chargers pass-catchers from last season.

Player Age Height Position Targets Receptions Yards
Tyrell Williams 24 6'4" WR 119 69 1,059
Dontrelle Inman 27 6'3" WR 97 58 810
Antonio Gates 36 6'4" TE 93 53 548
Travis Benjamin 27 5'10" WR 75 47 677
Melvin Gordon 23 6'1" RB 57 41 419
Hunter Henry 22 6'6" TE 53 36 478

It should be noted that Keenan Allen went down in Week 2 -- he's usually a high-volume player and was on pace for 105 targets before getting sidelined.

Williams' Fit With The Chargers

See any common patterns between the age and height here? The only wide receiver under 6'3" is Travis Benjamin, and Antonio Gates is the only pass-catcher over the age of 27. Williams seems to be extra insurance in case Father Time catches up to Gates or the oft-injured Allen gets hurt again.

Williams should jump in as the number-two receiver opposite Tyrell Williams and Allen, which would send Dontrelle Inman and Travis Benjamin to the bench in favor of the star-studded rookie.

Red Zone Work

Williams dominated the red zone at Clemson -- his 32 targets inside the 20 was good for 12th most in the NCAA, and 9 of his 10 touchdowns came in the red zone. Given his strong hands, physical skill set and his elite jump-ball ability, he should be a force to be reckoned with in this situation.

The Chargers' target market share in the red zone from last season is displayed in the below table.

Player Targets TDs Target %
Gates, Antonio 24 7 24.49%
Henry, Hunter 17 8 17.35%
Williams, Tyrell 17 2 17.35%
Benjamin, Travis 9 2 9.18%
Inman, Dontrelle 9 1 9.18%
Gordon, Melvin 8 2 8.16%
McCluster, Dexter 7 0 7.14%

For fantasy purposes, it is tough to project where the all important red zone targets will go with so many large pass-catchers on one team, but we know this should be a high-powered offense in 2017.


This selection was certainly a shock to some, but with the aging Gates and oft-injured Allen such crucial pieces to the offense, it's logical to bring in another big, young, physical receiver to shoulder the load if one of the vets goes down.

The Chargers are giving Philip Rivers all the tools he needs to push this team to the next level in 2017, and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.