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How Keenan Allen's Return Changes Tyrell Williams' Game
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With three weeks to go before the NFL Draft, top wide receiver prospects such Corey Davis, John Ross, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Williams are the apples of the scouting world’s eye.
Tyrell Williams remembers his draft experience the same way, when all the attention was paid to Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor and Phillip Dorsett. In fact, they were first five wideouts selected in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Yet outside of Cooper, it’s Williams, undrafted out of Western Oregon, who has made the most impact at the professional level. After all, he’s the only other one with a 1,000 yard season under his belt.
So is Williams worried that some may see his 2016 success as an aberration?
“Absolutely not,” the 25-year old said, dripping with sweat following a workout with his teammates. “I don’t even think like that. I put in a lot of work heading into last season, and I’m approaching this year with the same mindset. I have a lot to improve on, so I’m focused on just getting better. Getting 1,000 yards is something I always wanted to get, and I was able to do that my first year really playing.”
If anything, he expects more out of himself with the return of Keenan Allen.
KA13 established himself as one of the top receivers in the NFL before an ACL injury in Week 1 cost him the entire season. Ironically, his absence allowed Williams to ascend into a larger role. Still, number 16 believes Allen’s presence will only serve to help his game as he enters his third year.
“He opens so much up for me,” he said. “Defenses have to account for him, so that will open it for me and really the whole offense. He is such a big part (of what we do). He’ll open things up for all the receivers and the backs, too. I think it will be a big year for all of us.”
Still, Williams doesn’t believe he’ll be asked to play a different role. One of the fastest players on the team, Philip Rivers often hit the young wideout in stride on crossers and slants to maximize his speed. Those are the types of routes Allen excels on as well, which Williams believes will put defenses on their heels.
Catching the ball running at full speed is something Williams acknowledges is usually harder than it looks. However, he admits Rivers firing him the ball does make it easier.
“Philip is so good at it,” he said, shaking his head in astonishment. “It’s really something. He makes it easy. All I have to do is turn and put my hands on it. It’s right there. His accuracy is ridiculous. When you can catch the ball and not have to break stride, it’s huge. Phil makes it easy. I couldn’t ask for anyone better.”
Rivers’ ability to drop the ball on a dime is why Williams and Travis Benjamin tied for the league lead with six catches of 40 yards or more.
“Travis and I talk about it all the time,” Williams continued. “When you are fast and don’t have to slow down to catch the ball, it’s such an advantage. With Philip, you don’t have to slow down to catch the ball. He hits you full speed in stride, and to not slow down at all, it makes it so hard on the defense.”Read