Chargers go bold with Mike Williams pick

National champions Clemson against Ohio State in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

ANAHEIM-OK. Scoring points just came a bit easier for the Los Angeles Chargers. Melvin Gordon. Keenan Allen. Hunter Henry. Dontrelle Inman. Tyrell Williams. That’s a whole lot of offensive weaponry.

Now throw in the mix of all that offensive firepower the talents of Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams, and you just might have a Super Bowl contender on your hand. Any team with Philip Rivers slinging the ball all over the football field is likely to be a contender for the NFL’s highest prize.

Last season, the Chargers managed to put on the field the league’s 14th-rated offense. That should improve dramatically with Williams taking the field. 

By selecting Williams with the seventh overall (No.7) pick in this year’s NFL Draft, the Chargers just made a statement that they are going to be able to rock and roll from the onset of the 2017 season.

National champions Clemson against Ohio State in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

This was a bold and daring move from a brand new coaching staff. It was also a selection that played well with Chargers fans eating, drinking and soaking in the whole draft experience at ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney.

When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the Chargers’ pick in the first round, a large eruption of hysteria took over the popular Anaheim sports pub.        

What the Williams’ selection means is that the future is now, not later for the Chargers. Instead of picking a defensive player, which many experts thought they would, the Chargers went with the best player that was available on their big board.

That just happened to be the Megatron-like Williams, who have the definite upside to potentially dominate a game with his game-changing speed and physical play.   

“I love the pick,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said on a conference call with the media. “We put in a lot of work. We liked him. He was the number one player on our board, glad we could get him.”

Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams (7) became the overall No. 7 selection in the 2017 NFL Draft when the Los Angeles Chargers picked him up. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

The selection of Williams works twofold for the Chargers. Last season, the Chargers saw a plethora of their wide receivers go down for the season from season-ending injuries. Allen, along with the now departed Danny Woodhead, lost their 2016 campaign because of injuries.

Not only does Williams’ presence give the team much-needed depth at the wide receiver position, the 6-foot-3, 225 pound wideout is the explosive bookend that gives Rivers a home run threat on every down.

Lynn, who served as offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills last season before being named the Chargers head coach earlier this year, said a team can never have enough playmakers. That’s an area that Lynn is quite familiar with.

Last season, Lynn oversaw an offense that boasted having the skills of wide receiver Sammy Watkins, running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

“Well, you know you can’t have enough playmakers, and he made plays all throughout college,” Lynn said. “I love the way he competes.  I love all his intangibles. Like I said you just can’t have enough good players. We’ll definitely find a role for him. He’ll come in and compete like every other player, and I think that he’ll make us better. I think that he’ll upgrade the position.”

The Chargers wanted to make a big splash. Lynn and his staff wanted a playmaker. The Chargers went in for a dip in the pool and then some when they went against the grain of going after a defensive player.

Early draft projections had the Chargers snagging Ohio State safety Malik Hooker, which would make sense considering the team need an over-the-top defender with the range of Eric Weddle, now playing for the Baltimore Ravens.       

The Chargers blew up that idea when they nabbed Williams, making him the highest drafted wide receiver in franchise history. When you look at his production on the field, the numbers sort of scream out for Williams to be a Top 10 pick in the draft. In 2016, Williams caught 98 balls for 1,361  yards and 11 touchdowns.       

But the numbers don’t necessarily tell the whole picture of Williams’ dominance on the football field. Williams, who helped quarterback Deshaun Watson lead Clemson to a national title against Alabama, has an appreciative  habit of giving defensive backs the Moss’d treatment on his way to a second team All-American season.

Williams said via conference call that he had an inkling he was on the Chargers’ radar after going through a series of solid workouts with the team.

“The process was tough, it was pretty good,” Williams said. “They came and worked me out. I feel like I had a great workout. I feel like I caught all the balls, I ran a few shuttles. They wanted me to run the shuttles because I didn’t do them at my pro day. My times were great, so I mean, I was confident that they were going to pick me.”   

Williams didn’t make the trip to Philadelphia where the NFL Draft was held. Instead, he wanted to take in the moment of hearing his name being called on national television by surrounding himself with family and friends at his South Carolina home.

“They went crazy,” Williams said. “When I got the call, my call kind of fell at first…so I had to call them (Chargers) back, and then they told me they were going to select me in the first round.  It was an exciting feeling. My family went crazy, and it was a special moment for us.”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1119 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.