Can Terrance Williams become a star receiver?


My thoughts on Terrance Williams have mostly been lukewarm. I “liked” the player coming out of Baylor and I “liked” him as a rookie for Dallas. In my mind, I’ve always thought of his as a very solid, unspectacular wide receiver who will always play second fiddle in the NFL.

And then Williams started to get some buzz from a few writers who went back and watched some of his games. Here is an example of that:

This was just one comment, among many, that had me questioning what I thought of Williams’ long term potential. So I wanted to look into Williams statistically a little more to see where he really stands.

So let’s play a game to get this started. Below is  a chart of four receivers. One of them is Terrance Williams. Can you guess which one is him? Who are the other three receivers listed? I will give you a hint: the three others were at the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl:

Guess The WR's

In a vacuum, you can say that all four players are physically very similar. They are all within one inch of each other, they all weigh above 205 pounds. They all run in the late 4.4’s or high 4.5’s. We are looking at four similar athletes. But for some reason, we do not think of them this way. You probably guessed that Terrance Williams is “Player C.” He’s probably the “least” athletic receiver out of the bunch, but it is fairly close.  Player A is Chicago Bears’ Alshon Jeffery, Player B is Cleveland Browns’ Josh Gordon and Player D is in fact, Dez Bryant.

But if I were to ask how similar of athlete Terrance Williams and Josh Gordon, you would automatically assume that there was a massive gap between them. So now that I know how they compare physically, I wanted to take a look at how Williams’ rookie year compares to the other players who broke out after their rookie year of late. Here’s what I came up with:

Rookie WRs

As you can see, Williams rookie campaign is very similar to that of Gordon and Bryant. My question is this; why can’t Williams break out to be a star receiver like Gordon and Bryant have become? As we have already seen, Williams isn’t that far behind athletically in relation to other elite wide receivers and had a very impressive rookie year given the fact that he took some time to crack the starting lineup.

What I wanted to see is the range of outcomes for Terrance Williams season in 2014, providing he plays all 16 games and the team doesn’t add a receiver in the draft. Particularly, I wanted to see his ceiling as a number two receiver opposite of Dez Bryant. Here’s what I came up with:

Sim Seasons For Terrance Williams

I ran the Sim Test 5 times, using his rookie year as the floor of the 2014 season. What I find fascinating is that if Williams can eclipse 115 targets, which he should easily do, he will be a 1,000 yard receiver and will flirt with double digit touchdowns. He will never put up the massive touchdowns numbers, particularly because Dez Bryant gobbles up most of the team’s red zone targets.

But as you can see, Williams should have a fantastic sophomore campaign, and if he can reach 130-145 targets, there will  be a lot of talk about him as an elite receiver in the NFL. It should be a lot of fun watching the 2014 Dallas Cowboys offense, provided everyone can stay healthy.

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