The Rams continued their offensive haul on Tuesday, signing UDFA and former Auburn wide receiver . The 6’2,” 215 pounder was a rising star midway through the 2014 season before suffering an MCL sprain and suspension for breaking team rules. Things didn’t get better for Duke Williams in 2015, particularly because he couldn’t get out of his own way: he reportedly assaulted multiple people while intoxicated, leading to his dismissal; Williams struggled on the field as well, posting a mere 12 receptions for 147 and a touchdown through five games.
The pre-draft process was not kind to Duke Williams as one NFC Director of Personnel uttered a strong, yet widely accepted sentiment. “I can tell you that he burned all of his bridges over there (Auburn). He’s a selfish, me-first guy and I don’t think he’s trustworthy in the locker room at all. He didn’t compete at all this year. I wouldn’t draft him in any round.” Yikes. His character and maturity came under fire, but Williams didn’t shy away from such concerns.
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“I was late to practice many times,“ Williams told the Los Angeles Daily News. “Once I got in the doghouse, it was hard for me to get out. I was already in the doghouse, so everything I did, it was being watched. I just had to grow and I didn’t grow. So now I’m working to be a man. I put myself in counseling to really find myself as a person, to address the issue before it even happens again.” Once more, he admitted that counseling has helped him get back on track and “be able to address it right now to where nobody has to tell me what to do anymore.”
“If I didn’t get in any trouble, I know I’m a legit first-round pick,” he said. That statement is sure to raise some eyebrows, but it’s certainly difficult to dispute that after catching 45 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns in 2014. Euphemistically, he is not a superb athlete having posted a 4.66 40 yard dash, 30 1/2″ vertical, and 9’10” broad jump at Auburn’s Pro Day. I do, however, think it’s safe to assume to his dip in production is attributed to the inconsistent quarterback play that plagued Auburn all season, while his testing numbers aren’t a direct refection of his on-field abilities.
Williams serves as an indication of the Rams’ commitment to outside receivers who can make plays in the intermediate level, using his large frame, length, and timing ability to box out corners and snag balls out of the air at its highest point. He offers a large catch radius and strength after the catch, fighting for extra yards. Jeff Fisher and Co. aren’t adverse to giving character-risk prospects a shot, so taking a rare flier on a guy with potential isn’t happening here. Thus, Williams’ rawness alone isn’t going to earn him a roster spot. There are currently 13 receivers on the Rams’ roster, so he will need to hone his craft and prove he has grown from his time at Auburn. Regardless, I will be rooting for this intriguing prospect who seems focused on making an NFL roster