Jameson Williams' sky-high draft stock appeared to take a significant hit the moment he suffered an ACL injury in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Nearly four months later, it appears the Alabama wide receiver may not have to endure such a slide after all. On Sunday, Williams' agent tweeted a video of his client working out, providing prospective teams with a status update on the receiver's progress in rehab from his ACL tear. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported teams don't appear to be too worried about Williams' journey back from the knee injury, which has not experienced any complications or setbacks.
"Obviously, an ACL is a concern for any player. Teams like to know what exactly they are getting," Rapoport said during Monday's edition of NFL NOW. "It doesn't seem like it's that much of a concern to me from the teams I've spoken with. I don't know if he's going to be the first receiver taken, but he is going to be taken very high. I would not be surprised if he is a top-15 pick, ACL or not."
Williams left Ohio State to move to Alabama in 2021, becoming a star receiver in his only season with the Crimson Tide in an offense that also included wideout John Metchie. Both suffered injuries in Alabama's postseason play, and Williams' came at the worst possible time, especially for a player expected to attract a ton of attention from NFL clubs.
With the receiver making steady progress and suitors looking for a big-play wideout in the pass-first NFL, Williams might avoid a drastic slide typical of decades past. Williams stands as the second-best receiver in the class, per NFL Network's Bucky Brooks' most recent position rankings. We'll see which team is willing to take the risk with the hope of long-term payoff.
Here's what else we're monitoring Monday ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, which kicks off Thursday night:
- With no clear front-runner in this year's quarterback class, figuring out which signal-caller gets picked first in the 2022 NFL Draft depends on who you ask, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Monday on Good Morning Football. Liberty's Malik Willis is the prospect multiple coaches believe has the biggest upside and is the only QB in this class with "true NFL traits" because of his big arm and running ability, according to Pelissero. If a team needs a QB right now, Pelissero said Pitt's Kenny Pickett is the ideal prospect, but questions remain about his arm talent despite his breakout Senior season in 2021. Several general managers have told Pelissero in recent days that QBs like Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder, Ole Miss' Matt Corral and North Carolina's Sam Howell could be taken late in the first round, however, there are a couple of factors for teams needing a QB at the top of the second round. With the Lions eyeing a QB at No. 32, Pelissero says those teams would need to leapfrog Detroit in order to secure a first-round QB that comes with the financial advantages of having a fifth-year option. Pelissero adds that it shouldn't be surprise a team makes this move in order to get their guy.
- Don't rule out the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting a quarterback despite signing Mitchell Trubisky in free agency this offseason. "Again, anything that we did in free agency is not going to hold us from drafting that position," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told reporters Monday, NFL Network's Kayla Burton reported. Burton adds that the Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Co. have visited every top QB prospect of this year's class. Pittsburgh holds the No. 20 overall pick with Pitt standout Kenny Pickett projected to be in the mix. A rookie QB would presumably compete with Trubisky and Mason Rudolph for the starting job.
- The Carolina Panthers are unlikely to use their No. 6 overall pick to draft a quarterback, NFL Network's Bridget Condon reported Monday. While getting a QB is one of the main needs for the Panthers, Condon reported the hesitation is due to the belief that no one in this year's quarterback class is good enough to take so early, and so Carolina might be looking to trade down in order to get a Day 2 pick with which to grab a QB.
- Following Deebo Samuel's trade request from the 49ers, the New York Jets have been a rumored candidate to land the star wideout. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported on NFL NOW that his hunch is the 49ers are going to hold on to Samuel, which is what they want, per a source. Garafolo adds that a ransom for Samuel could persuade a trade, but San Francisco isn't actively looking for that kind of offer. With the No. 4 and No. 10 overall selections, Garafolo says the Jets and GM Joe Douglas "think extremely highly" of N.C. State tackle Ickey Ekwonu while Cincinnati cornerback Sauce Gardner fills a position of need. Garafolo adds the Jets may have a decision to make with the No. 4 pick should Ekwonu and Gardner be available, but they would wind up with one of those prospects they really like.
- Terry McLaurin may soon be the next wide receiver to cash in. Washington Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew told reporters Monday that the team has been having dialogue with McLaurin about a new contract. Said Commanders coach Ron Rivera: "Whether this is done or not in the next few days or afterwards, it's not going to affect what we're thinking about in the draft one way or the other."
- The New York Giants have been open about receiving calls about possible trades involving cornerback James Bradberry, and Rapoport reported Monday that it is possible New York will trade him before the start of the draft if they get a good enough offer. Rapoport adds that it's also possible Bradberry could be dealt Friday or Saturday to a team who missed out on drafting a cornerback.