Under Head Coach Art Briles, Baylor has been increasing its footprint in college football. While college football is just getting accustomed to the idea that Baylor is no longer ‘Bye-lor’, the NFL Draft has been taking notice of Baylor’s talent for a few years. The pick of Jason Smith announced Baylor’s presence to the world but with players like Kendall Wright, Phil Taylor, and most notably Robert Griffin III, Baylor is not a fluke and keeps churning out talent. This year is no different with wide receiver Terrance Williams, who will have his last game for the Baylor program in the Holiday Bowl. Williams earned 1st team All-American honors with a prolific year as the #1 target for the Bears catching 95 passes for 1,764 yards and 12 TDs with one game remaining. His dominance this year was most notably demonstrated in their game against West Virginia, where he caught 17 passes for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns. Williams can join former Bears Kendall Wright and Josh Gordon as Baylor wide receivers making noise early in their careers in the NFL. While he profiles as a speed receiver, Williams has the strength and power to be more than that, but needs to continue refining his technique to take further advantage of his impressive physical talent. His physical talent and potential will get him drafted earlier than his polish suggests he should, but if he can continue developing, it will more than warrant the pick, which as it stands, seems to be somewhere on the second day.
When it comes to catching the football, Williams is a work in progress. He is most comfortable catching the ball in his body. When passes are not in that small window to catch it with his body, he is more inclined to use his hands to pull it into his body to secure the body rather than simply catch the ball and then bring it in to protect it. He will also drop some passes he should not as a result of being a body catcher as well. He will occasionally flash solid hands, but this is something he needs to make more a more regular occurrence and be more confident in, so he can increase his catch radius and play faster. As this point, Williams is not going to leave quarterbacks much room for error when it comes to accuracy because his catch radius is not very big. He does track the ball well down the field, so if he can improve his hands, he could be a big threat going deep.
In terms of route running, Williams can be as good a route runner as his speed and quickness allow at this point. His ability to keep opposing defenders off balance with his speed is what enables him to gain separation. He has not taken the step of gaining separation by being savvy and giving defenders much to think about at this point. If the play calls for him to run a fade route, he is not going to fake a post or use a hesitation move to give the defensive back something else to think about. He is going to run the fade as fast as he can like the play is drawn up. It is possible that Baylor’s offense does not want him to do this because of their timing, but that is nevertheless what is being shown on the tape. He will have the opportunity to prove this an unfair criticism of him at whichever postseason All Star game he ends up playing.
Occasionally, Williams will telegraph his route to the defensive back. This seems to depend on how engaged he is at a given time. When he loses focus, his cuts are not as clean and he will give away where he is going with where is focusing his eyes enabling the defender to jump the route. He has good feet and can get in and out of his breaks well, but occasionally will not put in the necessary effort and the quality of his breaks drops. He is more effective on making lateral moves than he is on comebacks and when he runs comebacks, he needs to do a better job of prepping his body to make the turn after he catches the ball.
Given the fact that Baylor does not run an extensive route tree (fades, posts, bubble screens, comebacks, and slants for the most part), the hope is that Williams would be further along in how savvy he runs routes. When he gets to the NFL, the number of routes he is asked to run will no doubt increase and a more complicated offense could present problems for Williams. If he is dedicated and he finds himself in a situation with a better wide receiver coach, he could improve substantially, but this is a slight concern going forward.
Terrance Williams is an extremely fast receiver but bad habits slow him down on the field. In addition to having what is often a lackadaisical stance, he often bounces coming out of his stance, which makes him come off the line slower. This problem could be exacerbated in the NFL if he is forced to deal with press. When a receiver is the slowest guy off the line of scrimmage, it gives the defense an advantage. By catching with his body instead of his hands, it is much more difficult to catch cleanly and transition from receiver to runner. On the plus side, if Williams can correct these issues, it means that a fast player would get even faster in the NFL.
With the ball in his hands, it would be a mistake to underestimate Williams’ strength. He is not in the mold of someone like Justin Blackmon, but he has a decent stiff arm and is not afraid to use it. He is also built well for a speed threat at 205lbs and is not an afterthought to bring down, so if defensive backs are lazy with how they try to tackle him, he will break them and take it to the house. This makes him especially potent on slants and posts. The only question Williams has to answer is how comfortable working in the middle of the field putting his body at risk. If he is willing, he becomes that much more dangerous because he can play in the slot as well as on the outside which increases his viability in the NFL and increases his value.
Williams brings a good attitude to blocking and should only improve in the NFL. His effort could be more consistent, but he will not be satisfied just to be in the way and will try to turn blockers out to the sideline when he is outside and turn them away from the runner when is in the slot. He shows good effort in blocking down field. He occasionally flashes a mean streak as a blocker and will show some power, but he needs to cut down on the amount of time he is catching defenders and being pushed back toward the ball carrier. Everything seems to depend on whether Williams’ feet are under him, which is his best asset in his blocking. As long as he is under control, the quickness of his feet enables him to stay in front of defenders and control them. He also needs to be careful with his hand placement as there are times when he could be called for holding. Occasionally, he will grab on the outside of both shoulders and if he would take at least one of them back inside to the body, he would be fine.
Terrance Williams has a similar profile coming into the draft as former Maryland Terrapin Torrey Smith. Both are in that 6’1”-6’2” range and just about 200lbs and profile as big time speed threats on the outside. Like Williams, Torrey Smith came into the league as someone who caught too many passes with his body and needed to work on his hands. They also will both drop a few balls. Torrey Smith, while being inconsistent at times, has found success in the NFL and a portion of that success has been due to the fact that Torrey Smith went to a team in the Ravens that complemented his talents. Terrance Williams may not have as much success if he goes to a bad fit, but nevertheless can do many of the things that Smith is doing for the Ravens.
So much of Williams’ attractiveness to the NFL is based on his physical ability and potential, but he is going to need to put work into the craft of being a better receiver to pay it off. It seems like the Baylor program may have let him down a little in the coaching department for wide receivers as many of the habits he has should have been stamped out in high school, let alone college. It certainly does not hurt Williams that both former Baylor wide receivers Kendall Wright and Josh Gordon are having success in their rookie years, but he has stood out in his own right. Between the bowl game and the pre-draft process, Williams will need to try to find a way to set himself from the rest of a deep group. His talent and potential could get him selected in the second round, but because of the overwhelming depth of the position, he could find himself as someone sitting there at the beginning of day three.
Games from 2011
West Virginia 2012
Iowa State 2012
Texas Tech 2012
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