For a full calendar year, all Mike Williams constantly heard was how he failed to live up to his billing after a rookie campaign marred by injuries.
He was constantly peppered with questions about a 2017 campaign in which he had 11 receptions for 95 yards in just 10 games.
As he put it back in training camp, Williams knew he’d have to go out and prove he wasn’t a “bust” after just one season.
Well, we can finally put that narrative to bed.
Fully healthy, Williams is showing exactly what made him the consensus top wideout in the 2017 NFL Draft and why the Bolts selected him seventh overall. He leads the team with seven touchdown receptions, many coming in spectacular fashion. Overall, he’s hauled in 24 catches for 419 yards, good for a 17.5 yards-per-catch average, the seventh-best mark in the NFL. In addition, 20 of his 24 catches have gone for first downs, and that 83.3-percent mark is the fifth-best in the league.
Simply put, his big play contributions have been off the charts.
In fact, no other wide receiver is finding the end zone at a better clip than Williams as he’s averaging a touchdown every 3.43 receptions, which is tops in the NFL.
“That’s big,” he said. “Any time you get the ball in your hands, you’ve just got to try to get in the end zone. That’s the main thing. You’ve got to zoom focus into the end zone (and) make plays that come your way. That’s the main thing. Playmakers make plays.”
While Mike Williams provided countless highlights while at Clemson, his role was vastly different.
However, on a Chargers offense with top notch weapons including Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams out wide and the likes of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler out of the backfield, the ball doesn’t come his way nearly as often as it did in college.
For instance, he had 98 receptions in 15 games his last season in Clemson, which is a far cry from his 24 catches through 11 games this season.
Yet if you think the lack of targets bothers Mike Williams, you’d be dead wrong. The team’s success is far more important to him than individual accomplishments, so he understands why the ball doesn’t come his way as much as it did in college.
“That’s how it is here because we’ve got so many weapons to throw to and we’re running the ball great,” he said enthusiastically, clearly proud of the team’s explosive offense. “(We’ve) got a Pro Bowl receiver in Keenan (Allen). Tight ends are good. You’ve just got to make the plays that come your way, that’s the main thing. It’s not frustrating. It is different, though. I’m used to getting the ball all the time, and then you come in to a situation like this, you got to just make the best of every opportunity.”
It’s clear thus far that he’s done exactly that.
Plus, Williams knows that when the team needs a big play, they’ll look his way as he’s often been targeted in high-leverage situations and in the red zone.
“That’s the main thing,” he said. “My name (is) going to get called in the red zone, so I’ve just got to be prepared. For sure, that’s when it matters most. I’m just trying to be there for the team. I’m not really trying to prove nothing to nobody but myself. That’s the main thing. So I’ll just continue to come out here and play the game I’ve been playing since I was little.”