Can Duke Williams Fill LA Receiving Void?


The Los Angeles Rams paid a huge price this offseason to find their franchise quarterback.  After years of struggling to find the right fit, the Rams believe they have finally found their long-term signal caller in the form of Jared Goff.

Given the offensive philosophy typically promoted by Jeff Fisher, it is not necessarily reasonable to expect that Jared Goff will put up statistics in line with recent number one quarterbacks picks like Andrew Luck or Jameis Winston. But make no mistake about it, The Los Angeles Rams did not draft Jared Goff to headline an offense that continues to sit at the bottom of the league in every major passing statistic.

The team already started the process of surround Goff with strong offensive talent.  The offensive line, while young and in need of further depth, is trending up.  Maybe most exciting to Rams fans, is the effort being put forth by number two pick Greg Robinson.  If he can take a major step this year towards fulfilling his immense talent, this offensive line suddenly becomes a real strength.

The Rams already possess one of the most talented and exciting running backs in the NFL.  While the game has moved away from the days of the ground and pound attacks, there is no doubt that having a strong running game can be one of the best friends a quarterback can have early in his career.  The rushing attack will force teams to respect the ground game at all times, creating more opportunities for Goff through the air.

This now leads to the receiver positions.  Tavon Austin is as electric and exciting a player as you will find in the NFL.  But he has yet to show himself to be a number one receiver.  Kenny Britt and Brian Quick both look the part of a true go-to receiver, but neither one has shown the consistency to fill that role. 

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As disappointing as Jared Cook was during his brief time with the Rams, he was usually one of the team’s top receivers statistically and really the only semi-consistent threat at the tight end position on the entire roster.  His production, while below expectations, will still need to be replaced.

Given the question marks at the receiving positions, it is no shock that the Rams used a majority of their remaining picks in the 2016 draft to grab pass-catchers.

The organization did not stop at the draft, however.  A number undrafted free agents that the Rams have decided to bring into camp play these skill positions as well. 

Despite signing a number of undrafted receiving threats after the end of the draft, it may actually be a player invited in for a tryout that should excite Rams fans the most.  According to Rand Getlin of the NFL Network, the Rams will be bringing in former Auburn wide receiver Duke Williams for a closer look:

Heading into the 2015 season, Duke Williams was considered one of the top receiving threats in the country after a 2014 campaign that saw him catch 45 passes for 730 and 5 touchdowns in only 10 games.

Unfortunately, a continuous string of distractions starting with minor issues like showing up late to practice and ending in much more serious infractions ultimately lead to his dismissal from the team.

After losing his place on the Auburn football team and scaring away most NFL teams, Williams has hit rock bottom.  The positive part of this whole scenario for him is that he seems to understand this and be willing to take responsibility for his mistakes, if his comments during the NFL combine are any indication.

If Williams has truly learned from his past, and can dedicate himself to the game of football, he has the talent and size (6-2, 220lbs.) to fill a role sorely needed on this Los Angeles Rams team.

This organization has proven over the years that they are not afraid to take risks on talented players with checkered pasts.  Recent draft pick Tyler Higbee and his off-field troubles are proof of the staff being willing to gamble.

There is no doubt Williams has a real uphill battle to make it to the NFL at this stage.  But this try out has the potential to be real beneficial, not only for him, but for Rams organization and their  new franchise quarterback.