Patriots shouldn’t pass on Alabama receiver Jameson Williams

Before the Patriots made the move to acquire DeVante Parkerthere were quite a few mock drafts with Jameson-Williams‘ name penciled into the No. 21 spot.

The Alabama star receiver was a popular choice for the Patriots in the first round.

With Parker now in the fold, the chances of the Patriots taking Williams have dwindled considerably given they might not be quite as inclined to provide more firepower for quarterback mac jonesespecially in the first round.

They can focus on other needs that require more immediate help, namely cornerback, offensive line and linebacker.

But let’s not completely erase Williams from the board.

What if the Crimson Tide wideout happens to be sitting there when the Patriots are on the clock? What then?

Answer: Go for it!

Had Williams not suffered a recent ACL tear, he would have been the top receiver on the board. He’s exactly what the Patriots need to help keep up with the rest of the AFC — and that’s with Parker in the mix.

Williams has the kind of blazing speed that allows him to separate from man coverage, and the type of electrifying ability that will drive defensive coordinators crazy. He’s a special player, and the Patriots could really use an infusion of Williams’ talent on offense.

Before getting hurt, the 6-foot-1, 179-pound receiver was a big-play machine for the Crimson Tide, with 79 catches for 1,572 yards with 15 TDs. Almost 30% of his catches from him went for over 30 yards.

The question, of course, is whether or not Williams would be able to jump in right away, or if this would be a redshirt year. He underwent knee surgery in January.

Given that, there’s no guarantee. But whenever he’s fully back and healthy following his rehab, Williams would give the Patriots the elite offensive weapon that he’s sorely missing from the receiving corps. He would give Jones at least one dynamic playmaker in his arsenal.

ESPN draft expert Todd McShay called Williams “the closest thing to Tyreek Hill in the draft” in terms of explosiveness. He said Williams’ speed, not only vertically but after the catch, gives him a “big-play element.” And when he gets back to health, McShay believes Williams will be a “dynamic difference-maker” for some team.

Why not in New England?

The league has evolved into one where the successful teams have at least one, if not more, elite playmakers. Already, we’ve seen several AFC teams load up as much talent around the quarterback as possible.

Having an explosive offense has pretty much become a necessity for teams to succeed. That means the Patriots really need to step up, to keep up in the arms race.

Of course, the Patriots can wait to land receiving help in the latter rounds, given the depth of the draft at the position. They can still get explosive players in the second round. They just won’t be in the same league as Williams.

It’s possible the Patriots will go that route, and snag Alabama’s John Metchiewho stands at the head of the Day 2 class, given his playmaking ability, and familiarity with Jones.

Williams, however, is one of those rare talents who impacts coverage just by lining up. Even the Patriots, who have had trouble drafting receiver talent, aren’t likely to botch the pick if they go with Williams.

Having Parker actually gives them the luxury to grab Williams or Metchie, who are both coming back from ACL surgery.

In Williams’ case, he could jump in midway through the season. He won’t need to be plug-and-play at the start. Let’s also remember, Nelson Agholor and Jacob Meyers are unrestricted free agents next year. So bringing Williams aboard would be an important, proactive move.

ESPN analyst Damian Woody agreed. He’d love to see the Patriots snag Williams.

“I think New England is in a prime spot to go get Jameson Williams. I think the payoff could be huge,” Woody told the Herald. “They traded for DeVante Parker, which is fine and great, but in turn, if you draft Jameson Williams, there’s not any pressure on him right away. You allow him to continue his rehab, and when he’s ready, then you can unleash him. I love that move for the Patriots.”

Before the Pats landed Parker, NFL Network draft expert Daniel Jeremiah had Bill Belichick selecting Williams with the No. 21 pick given the team’s need to “get more dynamic weapons for Mac Jones.”

But will they make that type of move now?

It certainly hasn’t been in their Day 1 DNA to do so.

With eight picks overall, the Pats can still land a much-needed cornerback after the first round, nab speedier linebackers in the middle rounds or beyond, and grab help on the offensive and defensive line. As mentioned above, they can also land Metchie.

When it comes to Williams, however, they won’t have the chance to secure this type of talent, this type of player if they pass on the Alabama receiver — if he’s still available at No. 21. Or, if it’s necessary to move up the board to make sure they get him.

“You gotta have those guys,” said Woody. “Right now, with New England, they don’t have anybody that defensive coordinators are scared of. You gotta have one person, where, it’s just like, ‘This dude can absolutely blow the top off a defense.’”

matt groh, the newly anointed director of player personnel for the Patriots, seemed to agree with Woody’s take during his media session Friday. He said teams need to be “proactive” in finding impact wide receivers.

“Wherever teams can add an instant-impact player, which is what these wide receivers are in the game today, they’re going to do it,” said Groh. “You can’t just sit around, wait, and hope to get one of these guys in the draft. You got to be proactive about going and getting one of them.”

So it appears there’s at least a chance the Patriots will make a play for Williams.

It was during the College Football Playoff national championship game against Georgia that the Alabama wideout went down with a non-contact ACL injury.

Despite the serious knee issue, Williams said at the NFL’s scouting combine in early March that he was “ahead of schedule” with respect to the five- to seven-month timeline that was drawn up, which would have him ready for the 2022 season.

Williams also boasted about his ability.

“My deep play threat is exciting and it happens frequently,” said Williams. “So I feel like it would be a big add-on to whatever team takes a shot at me.”

It was also interesting to hear Williams say he had never run a 40-yard dash at Alabama when asked his time. But he also didn’t think it was necessary.

“I don’t know no 40 time. I just know nobody can run with me,” he said. “Just say whatever the fastest 40 time here, I’m faster.”

Yes, he’s confident, as are many top-flight receivers.

Since the Patriots have mostly shied away from paying top money for receivers, they need to attack the position in the draft, even with their poor history drafting receivers. They need to add elite prospects, who will be cost-effective early on. Groh didn’t disagree with that notion when speaking with reporters Friday.

There isn’t much doubt about Williams being a legitimate first-round pick, with or without the injury.

He could go as early as No. 10 to the Jets, who were in the running for Hill but lost out to the Dolphins.

The Chiefs might also leapfrog over the Patriots to get him, because they no longer have Hill. They have multiple first-round picks to use if they want to shoot up the board.

No matter which way you slice it, the Patriots need what Williams brings to the table. They need what he brings, along with what they already have in-house, in order to compete with all the high-powered offenses they’re set to face in 2022 and beyond.

“If he’s there (at No. 21), it’s easy,” said Woody. “Take him!”

Given the Patriots history, it’s just hard to imagine them doing that, although there is certainly a curiosity to see if Belichick would go against type and grab arguably the best receiver in the draft.

The scars from being burned by the N’Keal Harry pick in 2019 might be too fresh in Belichick’s mind, no matter what Groh suggested.

If that’s the case, Plan B should be Metchie, who had an official visit with the Patriots during the week. Metchie also spent time with the Bills, who are looking for a slot-type receiver to replace Cole Beasley. In this NFL, you can never have enough receiver talent.

While Williams didn’t play with Mac Jones, Metchie did, and had a terrific year. Williams doesn’t have the background with Jones, but he’s familiar with the Patriots offense, having played for Bill O’Briennow the offensive coordinator at Alabama.

The Patriots probably can’t go wrong with either. But if Williams is still available at No. 21, or in striking distance, they should seriously consider making a move to bring him aboard. Given how good he’s projected to be, it might wind up haunting them if they pass.

Andover’s Perry making the rounds

brown quarterback EJ Perrywho had an official visit with the Patriots last week, has made the rounds with numerous NFL teams.

The former star quarterback at Andover High, who went to Boston College before transferring to Brown, could be a late-round selection for some team. The 6-1, 211-pound Perry had two noteworthy seasons as a dual-threat quarterback for Brown.

In terms of the Patriots, they could be looking for a developmental quarterback to be a backup for Jones down the road. Or, he could convert to receiver, or be a Taysom Hill-like weapon.

Perry has generated some buzz after being the offensive MVP of the 2022 East-West Shrine Bowl, while also performing well at the NFL Scouting Combine.

ESPN draft guru mel kipper said Thursday during a video call with the media that Perry had a chance to be a late-round pick.

“Late-round maybe. More so priority free agent. But it wouldn’t shock me if he went in the sixth or seventh round,” said Kiper. “I think there’s a chance he could be a backup, maybe more than that. We’ll see, maybe catch lightning in a bottle. But EJ Perry has done enough to be worthy of getting into a camp.”

Carr’s team-friendly extension

Derek Carr‘s three-year, $121.5 million extension leaves the Raiders with the kind of salary cap flexibility the Patriots used to have with Tom Brady.

That wasn’t lost on Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels.

“What he did, and what we were willing to come to terms on, I think shows you he is significantly invested in this place, this organization, and helping us in anyway that he can try to win,” McDaniels told reporters Wednesday.

Even with the extension, it was reported that the Raiders will have the option to move on from Carr after next year.

Hall finalists coming Tuesday

The Patriots’ Hall of Fame finalists will be announced on Tuesday. The voting will run for roughly four weeks before the newest Hall of Fame selection by the fans is revealed on Tuesday, May 17.

I was fortunate to be a part of the nomination committee that met two weeks ago to help provide fans with the three most-deserving candidates to be considered for this year’s induction.

To recap, the slate of nominees spanned several different decades. Vince Wilfork, Wes Welker, mike vabel, bill parcels, Logan Mankins, Lawyer Milloy, John Smith, chuck fairbanks and julius adams received nominations. All but Milloy and Smith have been nominated in the past, and Fairbanks (2013), Parcells (2011, 2012, 2014, 2020) and Vrabel (2016-20) have previously been finalists.

Committee members were then given a ballot to list their top three nominees, in order. For the record, I had Wilfork, Welker and Vrabel, in that order. A dominant nose tackle, a slot receiver who revolutionized the position, and a player who was impactful on offense, defense and special teams.

It was tough to narrow it down. All are worthy.

After Tuesday, it’ll be up to fans to make the choice.

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