By the time the Buccaneers got around to selecting Mike Williams in the 4th round of the 2010 draft he was already, arguably, an afterthought. Numerous other receivers had come off the board at that point, Williams may well have been the most talented receiver in the entire draft but concerns about his character caused him to plummet down team’s boards and well out of the top half of the draft.
Where as Dez Bryant missed his entire final collegiate season and still got a chance to go first round, Mike Williams played a good portion of his but left the team mid-season and never really seemed to get the same attention or level of consideration Bryant got. His coaches and he both said it wasn’t an issue where he quit on the team, but the NFL had made its collective mind up and Williams paid for it.
He also had to contend with the other Mike Williams who, unfortunately enough, shared more similarities than just a name with Tampa’s young receiver. The elder Williams’ ill-fated first tenure in the NFL probably did little to help the younger’s draft stock. By the time the Bucs picked up Williams he wasn’t even the first receiver the team had taken, Arrelious Benn had come off the board with a lot more hype in the second round just a day earlier.
If you see where this is going, you shouldn’t be surprised what happened next. Mike Williams came into the league with a considerable chip on his shoulder. He had been labeled a bad egg before he’d ever gotten a shot, he was arguably the most physically gifted player at his position but saw scores of others selected before him. Even the Bucs probably had higher hopes for Benn in his first year than the somewhat enigmatic Mike Williams.
Williams didn’t waste much time impressing the Bucs though, he had a solid camp, showing glimmers of potential in the preseason and winning a large role in the offense from the outset of the season.
It’s funny how sometimes the difference between an elite receiver and a complete bust is just hunger. How hungry is a player? Maybe Mike Williams whetted his appetite when he was being passed over during the draft or maybe it was the general climate and atmosphere of the Bucs that contributed to it, but Mike Williams showed up hungry in 2010. He established himself as the Bucs ace receiver, a true number one, on his way to shattering Bucs rookie receiving records and the franchise touchdown receptions record.
Williams finished the season with 65 receptions for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns, a clear finalist for the offensive rookie of the year distinction. Williams is just one of many new weapons the Bucs brought in during 2010, but he’s certainly one of the most lethal. He’s a very good combination of size, speed and that intangible knack for the ball. He’s also established the kind of rapport with Josh Freeman you can only hope for. Him and Freeman could be a lethal tandem for years to come.
I’m sure Mike Williams wishes he could have gotten over 1,000 yards for the season (he missed by just 36 yards), but that should keep him hungry for next season. That and the fact you still can’t google him without getting that other Williams in Seattle first. This season Mike Williams showed Bucs fans who he was. Next year he shows the league.