I don’t know a single person named Chad, so when I hear the name I think of a Hampton’s trust fund baby with wingtips and a sweater on. Then Chad Johnson (of Ocho Cinco fame) comes to mind and I realize the only two Chad’s that I know of are NFL wide receivers. Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe it’s a prerequisite, but oddly enough both will have caught balls from Carson Palmer in their professional career (mind blown I know).
The Grambling State product was an NFL combine snub but wowed at his pro day. This led to the Arizona Cardinals drafting Williams with the 98th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Williams was selected over notable wide receiver prospects in Dede Westbrook (110), Josh Reynolds (117), and Josh Malone (128) to name a few. On the heels of the selection, Bruce Arians provided some context behind their decision to select Chad Williams.
“I don’t like slow guys,” he said after the selection of Williams on Friday. “I don’t give a (expletive) how big they are. You’ve got to be able to run past people and if you come in a big, strong, physical package, that’s even better.”
Larry Fitzgerald took things a step further during OTA’s and threw Williams an even greater compliment.
“He reminds me of Anquan Boldin in terms of the strength of his hands,” Fitzgerald said, according to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss. “Once it touches his hands it just doesn’t move. He’s got unbelievably strong hands.”
Seeing as neither of these individuals are prone to hyperbole, their endorsements of Williams factor into my evaluation of his potential to be a fantasy contributor in Arizona.
Reviewing some game tape confirms that Williams is a player with decent size and strong hands, but he plays slower than his 40 (4.45) time would indicate. Williams also needs significant refinement in his route running. The straight line speed is there, but he needs to become more fluid in and out of his breaks. That being said, speed isn’t exactly a make or break attribute for NFL success just look at the aforementioned Anquan Boldin (4.72 40yd dash).
Should Williams become a student of the game and learn the nuances of route running under the tutelage of Larry Fitzgerald his dynasty value could skyrocket. And if anyone can scheme ways to make that speed translate on the football field I trust Arians and his track record with small school prospects. Arians has worked with the likes of Antonio Brown, TY Hilton and John Brown with each of these receivers providing varying degrees of elite fantasy production.
I found some interesting comps using @ChristipherBean WR Comp Sheet and though he cautioned me against using such a refined search what it yielded spoke volumes to me. I used Height, Weight and 40yd Time to identify current (relevant) NFL wide receiver comps. The names Pierre Garcon and Torrey Smith may not be the sexiest players ever, but both have produced Top 24 fantasy wide receiver seasons in their NFL careers. The main difference between those aforementioned players and Williams is his SPARQ-x score of 137.1 which is 99th percentile.
So while Chad Williams wasn’t exactly on my pre-draft radar, I am intrigued by the landing spot, athletic profile, coaching track record and opportunity that could come as soon as 2018. My primary concern with the Cardinals is that Carson Palmer is only signed through the 2018 season and carries a very reasonable (for a quarterback) dead cap hit of $6.625M in 2018. Palmer has also resisted committing beyond the 2017 season to date. It’s entirely possible that Williams is catching passes from a different quarterback next season. The good thing is the 2018 NFL Draft includes some high caliber quarterback prospects. Arizona could always decide to go the veteran quarterback route again with the following players all scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in 2018.
- Kirk Cousins
- Sam Bradford
- Jimmy Garoppolo
- AJ McCarron
With a DFF rookie draft ADP of 46 and dynasty rookie wide receiver ranking of 17, Williams presents as a decent draft and stash taxi squad player with real boom-bust potential. Ultimately if he ends up with a Garcon type career arc, you would consider him a solid dynasty asset.
Check out more of my work @DFF_Walk.