When Alabama’s Jameson Williams went down with a severe knee injury in the College Football Playoff, his NFL draft future looked in jeopardy. The good news is his recovery is going well, and it seems like he’s back to being a first-round pick.
The bad news is, if NFL Network draft guru Daniel Jeremiah is right in his latest mock draft, Williams could end up with a team and a coach that have been incapable of drafting wide receivers in the last two decades: Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
NFL Network Daniel Jeremiah has Alabama WR Jameson Williams going to the New England Patriots
Wide receiver Jameson Williams has had a rollercoaster ride from his days as a prep star in St. Louis, Missouri, to becoming a first-round 2022 NFL Draft prospect.
The 4-star recruit arrived at Ohio State in 2019 and played in 22 games over two seasons. Despite a good amount of playing time, Williams only recorded 15 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns in Columbus, Ohio.
In 2021, Williams transferred to Alabama, and his NFL draft prospect status truly took off.
Last season, Williams played 15 games, catching 79 balls for 1,572 yards and finding the end zone 15 times. He also returned 10 kicks for 352 yards and, against Southern Miss, returned two for touchdowns, per RollTide.com.
During the College Football Playoff national championship game against Georgia, the talented wideout went down with a non-contact ACL injury.
Despite the serious knee issue, Williams told NFL.com‘s Nick Shook in early March that he’s “ahead of schedule” in his five-to-six-month timeline, which would have him ready for the 2022 season.
The 6-foot-1, 179-pound WR’s optimistic prognosis — and his precise route-running and blazing speed — have made Williams a legit first-round pick, even with the injury.
His only problem now is that in NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah’s latest mock draft, he could end up where WR draft picks go to (metaphorically) die: the New England Patriots.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has one blind spot in the NFL draft
During Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s two-decade-long New England Patriots dynasty, the franchise made precious few missteps when it came to personnel.
The organization was famous for letting players go a year too early instead of a year too late, allowing other teams to pay players’ big contracts and then signing them back on the cheap a few years later, and finding value in the NFL draft.
The one, and possibly only, thing Belichick couldn’t figure out on his way to six Super Bowls is how to pick WRs in the NFL draft.
Belichick took over the Patriots in 2000. Over the next 21 years, the team drafted 18 receivers. The only home run was the seventh-round (No. 232 overall) pick in 2009, Julian Edelman from Kent State. He finished his career with 620 catches for 6,822 yards and 36 touchdowns.
There were some mild hits early on as well. In 2002, the Patriots took Louisville’s Deion Branch in the second round (No. 65) and Notre Dame’s David Givens in the seventh (No. 253). In two separate stints with the team, Branch had 328 receptions for 4,297 yards and 24 TDs. Givens had 158 receptions for 2,214 yards and 12 TDs in four seasons.
Behind these three, the next-best WR Belichick drafted is UCLA’s Matthew Slater (fifth round, No. 153, 2008). He’s only caught one ball for 46 yards in his 14-year career with the Patriots, but he’s a 10-time Pro Bowler as a special teams player.
Outside of that, Belichick’s draft record is truly awful.
Belichick and the Patriots’ horrific history of drafting WRs
To understand just how bad Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have been at selecting wideouts in the NFL draft, you have to see the motley crew laid out in black and white.
Here are the WRs Belichick has drafted, along with their stats for the Patriots:
|Bethel Johnson||Texas A&M||2003||2||45||39||30||450||4|
|P.K. Sam||Florida State||2004||5||162||2||0||0||0|
|Brandon Tate||North Carolina||2009||3||83||18||48||432||3|
|Devin Lucien||Arizona State||2016||7||225||0||0||0||0|
|Braxton Berrios||Miami (FL)||2018||6||210||0||0||0||0|
|N’Keal Harry||Arizona State||2019||1||32||33||57||598||4|
|Tre Nixon||Central Florida||2021||7||242||0||0||0||0|
Not counting Julian Edelman, Deion Branch, David Givens, and Matthew Slater, Belichick’s 14 other wide receiver draft picks have played 158 games and put up 245 receptions for 2,893 yards and 22 TDs.
By comparison, this season alone, Cooper Kupp played 17 games and caught 145 balls for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Alabama’s Jameson Williams has all the talent and potential in the world. But if he (or any WR) goes to the New England Patriots in the 2022 NFL Draft, as Daniel Jeremiah predicts, it would be the professional football kiss of death.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference