The jump ball is an art in the NFL. Guys like Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown have mastered this art. It also helps to have a quarterback that can put the ball in the right position; Jones, Beckham Jr. Brown and Evans all have fantastic quarterbacks that are the cream of the crop. These guys can put the ball on the money, when it comes to the 50/50 ball.
The Los Angeles Chargers number seven overall pick, Mike Williams, may be that next elite jump ball player. That statement may sound a little out of hand, but turn on the tape; this guy can really climb the ladder and snatch the ball out of the air. The whole country saw the 6’3 wide receiver torch a very talented Ohio State University team in the first playoff game and then did the same thing to Alabama in the championship game.
Not only does he show fantastic ball control, but he also makes big plays when it matters the most. Fast forward to last Sundays game against The Raiders, Mike Williams caught a 15 yard pass over the middle on a crucial third down to set up a Chargers touch down late in the third quarter. Even though Williams on played a handful of offensive snaps, head coach, Anthony Lynn expects to get Williams on the field more against the Broncos on Sunday.
The Chargers are not short on offensive weapons, but Mike Williams provides much needed depth at a position that the Chargers struggle to stay healthy at every year. Kennan Allen has shown what he can do if he stay healthy, but the past 2 seasons he hasn’t been able to accomplish that feat. Allen tore his acl in the first game against the Chiefs last season and lacerated his kidney against the Ravens (week 8) in the 2015 season. This has left Phillip Rivers with limited options to throw the ball to.
With the emergence of Tyrell Williams, Hunter Henry and the addition of Travis Benjamin Phillip has seen an increase in weapons across the board. Tyrell Williams is still a very young wide receiver with extreme potential, but he drops passes and fumbles the ball, a lot of Rivers interceptions last season came on Williams dropping a pass while running a crossing route underneath. The Chargers love to run the crossing route because it fits their scheme perfectly, they can draw the defense up the field with Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry and Travis Benjamin while running Allen and Williams underneath. Allen is a very shifty player and can rack up yards after catch, same goes for Tyrell Williams, he may not be the most agile player, but he can fly down the field and has a huge frame. Mike Williams is a special talent and is very physical after the run and has amazing body control.
A lot of people questioned why the Chargers decided to take Mike Williams with the 7th overall pick, but it was a great addition to the team and Rivers has shown time and time again that he likes bigger targets to throw to. Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd thrived with Rivers because Rivers throws a beautiful jump ball that both of these guys could go up and grab. If Mike Williams can show consistent route running, excellent hands and the ability to go get the ball then he will also thrive under Rivers.
Williams has dealt with some injuries in his career. He suffered a season-ending neck injury against Georgia Tech in 2015 and he has sat out all of pre season and part of the regular season with a back injury. The Chargers are known for injuries to key players, but with the depth at the wide receiver position Williams has had time to recover and get to 100%. Williams will provide another weapon for Rivers and this offense; it is only a matter of time before he steps into a comfortable roll as the number two guy across from Kennan Allen. Kennan Allen, Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams, Hunter Henry, Antonio Gates and Melvin Gordon will help take pressure off of Rivers and give him what he hasn’t had in years, big reliable targets that will make plays.
The Chargers are 2-4 right now, but expect to turn their season around on Sunday when they play the Denver Broncos.
-Alan Rodges is a Staff Writer, who covers the Los Angeles Chargers for cover32.com/Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @Misfitallday.
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