The Las Vegas Raiders reloaded at wide receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft. After the talent infusion at the position, Tyrell Williams must step up in 2020.
Last season, the Raiders receiver unit was in a constant state of flux with only rookie Hunter Renfrow emerging as a reliable weapon. Williams for his part is the exception to that statement as his promising season was ruined due to plantar fasciitis. With no viable weapons, it was crucial general for manager Mike Mayock to retool the position. The draft additions of Henry Ruggs III, Lynn Bowden Jr., and Bryan Edwards were monumental, but what does it mean for Williams ahead of the 2020 season?
A Return To Excellence?
Amidst draft hype for a wide receiver after a subpar 2019 season, it was easy to dismiss Williams. However, before his injuries began to slow him down, it was Williams who filled the void left by Antonio Brown. Unfortunately, Williams’ stats don’t exactly scream “number one receiver,” he caught six touchdowns, 42 receptions, and totaled 651 receiving yards. In the fallout from the Brown saga, we saw what Williams could do in the opening game versus the Denver Broncos. He caught six receptions, totaled 105 yards, and a touchdown. Also, before the fasciitis took its toll, we witnessed the wide receiver have a streak of five straight games with a touchdown.
It’s hard to say Williams was a free agent bust due to the aforementioned issues, injuries can slow down even the toughest of men. The second issue also highlights the flaw with his 2019 campaign: He was brought in to be the second option behind Brown and Renfrow was supposed to be the third. The inability to adjust hampered the Raiders as defenses could then zero in on Williams, which made his numbers steadily go down after Week 8. Fans don’t want to hear excuses and that’s understandable, yet, Williams isn’t washed up, call it being a “victim of circumstance.”
Even still, at the Raider Ramble, we brought up the notion that Williams is still a “number one receiver” and once again fans had plenty to say.
Tyrell Williams is a #1 wide receiver #RaiderNation
— RaiderRamble.com™ (@TheRaiderRamble) April 28, 2020
Health Is Key
For Williams, the key to returning to the form he showed with his previous team will be his health. With the Los Angeles Chargers, he showed what he could do when healthy. 2016 is a good example, which coincidentally was the last time the Raiders made the playoffs too. With just 12 starts, he caught 69 receptions, totaling 1,059 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Throughout his career with the Chargers, he maintained a 16.3 yards per reception average and caught 111 first down passes. The one stat that did take a huge hit was his longest reception average. With Los Angeles, it was 80 yards while with the Raiders, it dropped to 46 yards.
If we look at the 2020 season, it has the makings of a perfect storm for Williams. He had a whole offseason to heal his wounds and the rookie additions will take the pressure off of him. The attention that Ruggs and his downfield speed will command should free up the veteran, not to mention defenses will have to account for Renfrow as a possession receiver in the middle.
Perhaps, Jon Gruden can have Williams line up in the slot, let him go, and see if he can make the big plays free of the pressures of being the “the number one guy.”
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