NFL

Lions make huge move up draft board for Jameson Williams

By Sports Desk April 28, 2022

The Detroit Lions did make a huge draft-day trade, but it was for wide receiver Jameson Williams rather than a quarterback.

Detroit, having picked Aidan Hutchinson second overall, traded the final pick in the first round (32nd overall) as well as selections 34 and 66 to move up to number 12 in a deal with the Minnesota Vikings, who also sent pick 46 to their NFC North rivals.

Many had thought the Lions might take a swing on Liberty's Malik Willis, the highest upside quarterback in an underwhelming class.

But they instead made the move for the premier deep receiving threat in the draft, showing faith in Williams to return quickly from the torn anterior cruciate ligament the Alabama star suffered in the National Championship Game in January.

A transfer from Ohio State, Williams' sole season with Alabama saw him rack up 79 catches for a team-high 1,572 yards, with his 15 touchdown catches tied for third in the FBS.

Nine of Williams' 15 touchdown catches were for 40 or more yards, while no player in the FBS produced more than his nine receptions of at least 50 yards.

According to Stats Perform data, Williams registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted, on 74.6 per cent of his targets in 2021.

He comfortably led all receivers in burn yards per target, his average of 19.34 nearly five full yards better than that of his nearest challenger, Cincinnati's Alec Pierce (14.74), and was also the cream of the crop in burn yards per route (4.9).

The Lions may not yet have their quarterback of the future but, after acquiring Williams, they have the receiver they hope will be the favourite target of that as yet unidentified signal-caller.

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