For months leading up to his sophomore season, the previous year’s first-round pick answered countless questions about a disappointing rookie campaign in which he failed to find the end zone.
No, we’re not talking about Mike Williams.
This is what Melvin Gordon endured the entire 2016 offseason after a rookie year in which he carried the ball 184 times for 641 yards and zero touchdowns in 14 games with five fumbles. He followed that up with a Pro Bowl second season in which he pounded the rock 254 times for 997 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in 13 games with only two fumbles.
Thus, you can understand why Gordon was so sympathetic to Mike Williams’ plight this offseason as he and the wideout faced a similar line of questioning.
By this point, everyone knows a back injury limited Williams all year long last season as he caught only 11 passes for 95 yards in 10 games with no touchdowns.
Well, just like Gordon, Williams has put all doubt to bed with a standout sophomore season in which he’s snared 37 passes for 592 yards and nine touchdowns while also running for another. Overall, his 10 total touchdowns are the fourth most among wideouts in the NFL. They’re also the most by a Chargers’ WR since Tony Martin in 1996.
In addition, 31 of Williams’ catches have gone for first downs, good for an 83.8 first down percentage that ranks second in the NFL.
But this isn’t another story documenting Williams’ turnaround.
Instead, it’s about Gordon and the bond the two of them forged after walking a similar path.
Williams has been front and center recently after winning AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors with a three-touchdown performance that also includes snaring the game-winning conversion. Thus, Gordon opened up earlier this week about the conversation the two had this offseason.
“I was talking to him in the offseason,” the running back explained. “I was just like, ‘Bro, you know I see it’s going to be a better year for you.’ Being the seventh pick, I was the 15th pick and you didn’t score any touchdowns (and) I didn’t score any touchdowns. You had high expectations as well as I did. To the fans and the people, you really didn’t meet (those expectations), and it’s just so much motivation. I was like, ‘Bro I understand.’”
It’s eerie just how similar the first two seasons of their careers proved to be. In fact, Gordon pointed out a photo taken in their rookie years that are near identical as well, but knew if Williams followed his advice, he’d turns things around – just as Gordon did.
“It was a picture he had where he was like laying on the ground with his head down,” he said. “We had the same picture (of me) and I had it vs. Miami my rookie year. I was like, ‘Bro, I feel your pain. You’ve just got to grind, bro. It’s going to be a better year for you.’ So, me seeing him with all the success he’s getting now is just – I’m so happy for him because people don’t know how tough it is with all those expectations just for yourself and just being a top pick and just being a great player and not producing the way you want. It’s tough to get out that, and he got out of that hole and he’s making the best of it. I’m happy for him.”