2021 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Seth Williams (Fantasy Football)
As we enter April and the NFL Draft quickly approaches, the Fantasy Footballers writing staff has been hard at work putting out rookie profiles. Next up is Seth Williams, another wide receiver in what’s shaping up to be another deep receiver class. Williams didn’t put up monster numbers in his collegiate career, but he also didn’t play in a pass-happy offense or with an elite quarterback. He does, however, check all the boxes when it comes to measurables. So what can we make of the athletic prospect from Auburn? Let’s take a look.
Editors Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2021 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the brand-new UDK+ for 2021.
College Production Profile
Williams was an all-around athlete in high school, receiving all-state honors in basketball, earning medals in the long and high jump in the state track and field meet, and of course, dominating at football. He was highly recruited, receiving offers from powerhouse programs Oregon, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Auburn, and Alabama. Despite attending Paul W. Bryant High School in Tuscaloosa, Williams decided to sign with Crimson Tide rival Auburn.
He immediately made an impact as a big-play threat during his freshman season, posting a notable 19.4-year-old breakout age. His numbers got even better during his sophomore season before leveling off a bit as a junior. His raw numbers may not look great in a vacuum, but he put them up on a run-first Auburn team that rushed the ball 313 more times than passing it over his three-year collegiate career.
Williams hits all of the physical thresholds from the production profiles found in the UDK+ Dynasty Pass. While this rookie class is littered with wideouts that profile as slot receivers at the professional level, Williams is one of the few that’s built to be a prototypical outside “X” receiver in the NFL. His height, weight, and 40 time mirror those of A.J. Green, Alshon Jeffery, and Jordy Nelson. Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into being a productive NFL receiver than height, weight, and speed, but it’s a good place to start.
What’s on Tape
Games Viewed: LSU (2019), Alabama (2019), Kentucky (2020), Arkansas (2020), Ole Miss (2020), LSU (2020)
1. Williams’ awareness and body control make him lethal with back-shoulder catches.
Williams has an uncanny talent for pressing a cornerback upfield before slamming on the brakes, reverse pivoting to the outside, and snagging the ball near the sideline. I counted at least eight back-shoulder catches in the six games I watched. When executed correctly, that kind of catch is nearly unstoppable, as illustrated in the clip below from a 2019 game against LSU.
2. He can win against both man and zone coverage.
The back-shoulder catches mentioned above are a great way to beat man coverage. Williams also showed to be capable of beating man coverage by getting free from a press at the line, running by, or jumping over defenders. Beyond that, there were also numerous examples of Williams settling in the open windows created by zone coverages. Yes, his best attributes may be physical, but Williams appears to understand the nuance of the game as well.
3. His contested catch ability makes him a potentially elite end zone target
Ok, back to Willams winning with physicality. His size and athleticism wouldn’t mean much if he couldn’t go up and get the ball over defenders. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for him, however, as he was routinely rising above defensive backs to make a play on the ball. He didn’t bring down every jump ball thrown his way, but he almost always put himself in a good position to do so. He’s the kind of receiver that a quarterback should trust when throwing the ball to the end zone.
What’s NOT on Tape
1. Consistent effort, especially when blocking
The first game I watched of Williams was Auburn’s 2020 matchup with Arkansas. In that game, Williams wanted absolutely nothing to do with physical contact if the ball wasn’t coming his way. This especially showed up when he was asked to do any kind of running blocking. In the clip below you’ll see him let a safety run free right past him on the way to the running back. For what it’s worth, Williams looked considerably better blocking in every other game I watched, but this wasn’t a good look.
2. Consistently accurate passes thrown his way.
Williams spent his freshmen season catching passes from Jarret Stidham, then his final two with Bo Nix, a dual-threat quarterback that hasn’t proven to be particularly accurate. While the back-shoulder throws and jump balls showed Nix and Williams had a rapport, there were also more than enough passes that fell short or wide of the mark, often after Willams had won his route. It’s enough to make one wonder what kind of numbers Williams could’ve produced in a different offensive situation.
2021 Fantasy Outlook
It’s been stated ad nauseam at this point, but the landing spot and draft capital are going to tell us a lot about Williams’ fantasy football prospects in 2021. To get on the field as a rookie he’ll need to go to a team that has a need at outside receiver. He’s projected to be selected sometime on day two of the draft, so he should at least head to training camp with a chance to battle it out for playing time. He’s definitely a name to keep on your radar throughout the summer because if he does make a splash with his new team during camp, we’ll be hearing about it by the time fantasy drafts come around.
As far as dynasty goes, Williams is one of my favorite targets in rookie drafts. You should be able to get him in the late-second or even third round. His long-term fantasy production is far from guaranteed but his ceiling is well worth the risk at that draft price. He has all the tools to be a legit number one receiver in the NFL for years to come if all the pieces fall into place.