Too fast and athletic for most linebackers and safeties
Sideline skills; good toe-tapping
Soft, natural hands
High points the football
Quickness as a route-runner
Has blocking ability
Makes acrobatic, highlight-reel catches
Unafraid across the middle
Running after the catch
Finds the soft spots in zone
Three-down tight end
Lacks ball skills
A little stiff
Doesn't play up to his speed
Summary: Not many redshirt sophomores declare for the NFL draft, but Williams made a wise decision to do so as he is the favorite to be the first tight end selected. Williams has good size, natural receiving skills, athleticism and speed. He also has some blocking potential. Over the past two years, Williams flashed dynamic play-making ability for Minnesota.
Williams only started seven games in 2013, but he still led the team in receiving with 417 yards on 25 receptions and five touchdowns. He was capable of a lot more production for the Gophers, as he is a real mismatch weapon, but they had a run-based offense with David Cobb. That trend continued for Williams in 2014. The redshirt sophomore totaled 36 receptions for 569 yards with eight touchdowns. He was better as a blocker after getting some experience as well.
For the NFL, there is no doubt that Williams could be a good receiving tight end. He is quick and athletic to get open. Williams gets separation from linebackers, and safeties can have a hard time staying with him in and out of his breaks. He gets down the middle seam quickly and finds soft spots in zone. Williams has the ability to go up and make acrobatic catches and is excellent along the sideline. He is real weapon who is too big for safeties to cover and too fast and athletic for linebackers.
Williams is also a dangerous open-field runner. He hurdles tacklers, breaks out of attempted takedowns and can be tough to get to the ground. Williams produces serious yards after the catch. He is a red-zone weapon who could be a touchdown producer in the NFL.
As a blocker, Williams has made strides. He is functional at hitting blocks and did a nice job of supporting the Gophers' ground game. He should be an asset in the red zone with his blocking and receiving skills.
In speaking with sources from multiple teams, there were mixed reviews from Williams' Combine interviews. Some teams were disappointed, while others said he's a good kid who will just to mature. Considering he was only a redshirt sophomore when he declared for the 2015 NFL Draft, that makes sense.
For the NFL, Williams has the skill set to be a receiving weapon and a three-down tight end. If he lands with a good quarterback, Williams could develop into a Pro Bowl-type tight end who produces big receiving totals and touchdowns. Williams looks solid as a second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and might sneak into Thursday night as a late first-rounder.
Player Comparison: Todd Heap. The former Raven makes a lot of sense as he and Williams are athletic receivers who also could contribute quality blocking. Heap (6-5, 252) is nearly the same size as Williams. Heap was the 31st-overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. Williams might sneak into the late first round like Heap.
NFL Matches: New Orleans, Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Pittsburgh, New England
There are a number of teams looking to add a tight end this offseason. New Orleans could use another receiving element from the tight end position with Jimmy Graham being dealt to Seattle. The Saints could target Williams at No. 31 or in the second round. New Orleans also has the ammo to move up some in Round 2 to land him.
Atlanta needs a better tight end than Levine Toilolo, who hasn't proven to be the long-term replacement for Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons missed the future Hall of Famer in 2014, and Williams would be an immediate upgrade over last year's situation. He would be tough for Atlanta to pass on in Round 2.
The Browns could lost Jordan Cameron in free agency, but Williams could be a quality replacement. Cleveland could hope to land him in the second round. Likewise, Denver lost Julius Thomas, and Williams could tempt the Broncos at the end of the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
The Texans took a tight end in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but C.J. Fiedorowicz is a blocking tight end. Houston wants a receiving tight end to pair with him. Williams could be tough for the Texans to pass on if he gets to their pick.
The Steelers could draft Williams as an understudy to veteran Heath Miller. If Williams makes it to Pittsburgh's second-round pick, he would probably be the best player available, though it seems unlikely he would fall that low.
At the end of the first round, the Patriots could consider Williams. Rob Gronkowski has had injury issues, and the team still hasn't properly replaced Aaron Hernandez. Perhaps Williams will be too tantalizing for New England to pass on.