Preston Williams: Revisited

Preston Williams had his season cut short with a torn ACL.

Williams had a productive season with 32 catches for 428 yards and a trio of touchdowns. If he had played a full season, he likely would’ve closed in on 1,000 yards.

Among rookie receivers, Williams is still tied for the receptions lead with Terry McLaurin and is sixth among rookies in receiving yards.

Williams was also used as a punt returner in the last few weeks of his season, recording 10 returns for 115 yards.

Williams was critical to the Dolphins’ triumph over the Jets in Week 9, catching a pair of touchdowns and posting 72 yards on the day, his second-best performance.

While the book is closed on Williams’ 2019 season, Williams showed limitless potential as a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL. Williams has both the size and athleticism to be a tremendous option for the quarterback that the Dolphins select in the 2019 draft if they decide to move on from Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Regardless of the quarterback throwing him the ball, Williams was effective over the center of the field, hauling in 15 of 21 targets for 153 yards and all three of his touchdowns. Williams was fairly effective on all three levels of short, intermediate, and deep passing, but he still has plenty of room to grow as a receiver as evidenced by his fairly pedestrian yards after the catch and drop metrics.

Williams is still raw as a route runner and receiver in general, but he has shown some versatility. According to Pro Football Focus, Williams had 18 snaps in the slot in eight games. While that is a small sample size, Williams could improve upon his ability from the slot and carve a career out of being a big slot receiver similar to the likes of Michael Thomas and Larry Fitzgerald. Williams is nowhere close to the level of 2019 Thomas or prime Fitzgerald, but he does have the stature to potentially be a weapon from the slot. If Williams continues to operate from the wide positions, he will still have the size, speed, and strength to catch contested balls and be a menace with the ball in his hands.

A completely healthy season from Williams would likely have seen him lead the Dolphins in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns, but DeVante Parker has taken the mantle as the team leader in all four of those stats following Williams’s injury.

Parker has been linked to a move away from Miami for the last few seasons, so it seems likely that the Dolphins move on from the former first-round pick and build their receiving corps around Preston Williams and a 2020 draft pick.

Williams has many paths to success in the NFL. Assuming that he recovers from his torn ACL, Williams will be the best player on the Dolphins offense for years to come. Williams has a tremendous catch radius, and he is only beginning to scratch the surface in terms of versatility, route-running ability, and ability to shed tackles.

The future is bright for the 22-year-old undrafted free agent.

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