The Daily Gopher was gracious enough to answer questions regarding TE prospect Maxx Williams. Check out the questions below, and let us know in the comments what you think.
1. Williams is widely considered to be the best TE prospect in this class. What makes him the best?
His size, athleticism and receiving ability are what makes him stand out. In high school Williams played linebacker, quarterback, receiver, tight end and punter. His father played in the NFL, his grandfather was a QB at Notre Dame and his mother was a division 1 standout volleyball player. He has the genes and he has shown over two years with Minnesota that he is incredibly talented. His stats will not jump off the page at you, but it is important to remember that Minnesota lacks talent at quarterback (apologies to Mitch Leidner) and is a run-first (and second and third) offense. About halfway through his freshman season, Williams turned into a playmaker and offensive weapon for the Gophers and as a sophomore was one of the better offensive players in the Big Ten.
2. He's an early entrant as a redshirt sophomore, did he make the right call entering the draft?
Unfortunately he did make the right call. I believe you should always stay in school unless you are a guaranteed first round pick or if your draft stock is at a peak. Williams is widely considered the best tight end in the draft and on the edge of first round. His draft stock could not be any higher and playing his junior year only risks injury. His departure will be a blow to the Gopher offense but this was the right decision for him to make.
3. Known more as a receiving, move around type TE. How's his blocking?
At the collegiate level and on a team that really does a lot of run blocking, he did just fine. At the next level where guys are going to be bigger/stronger/faster...he will need to add strength and improve his technique. This is his area of weakness but I think adding strength will go a long way.
4. At 6'4" 250 lbs, is he built for an every-down TE role in the NFL, or will he need to bulk up?
See question #3, he needs to add strength. His height and frame leaves room to add size while not losing his speed and athleticism.
5. He's gifted athletically and made some terrific catches last year. What do you see as his greatest attribute to translate to the NFL?
He is just a play-maker. He has great body control to go along with good speed and great hands. This will translate into the NFL very well. In the pass-heavy world of the NFL, Maxx will be a nice complimentary player to any offense.
6. Ultimately, where do you see him getting drafted? And what sort of immediate impact do you expect?
I see him possibly being sniped late in the first round, more likely an early second round pick. There are three consecutive picks at 42, 43 and 44 where Atlanta, Cleveland and New Orleans pick respectively. I'd be surprised if he falls beyond these three picks. With Cleveland having multiple picks, where they actually end up selecting after potential trades, could make Williams a target for them should they end up with a pick in late 30s.
His impact? He is a bright kid so I expect he will grasp an NFL playbook, at least as quickly as anyone else. He has the hands and athleticism to be a factor in the passing game very early. I suspect his second year will be a bigger break-out year than his first but he will be playing a lot of snaps as a rookie and a contributor on just about any offense.