Separation Quickness - Really impressive ability to lull off-coverage or zone defenders to sleep before breaking off his route suddenly. Hip snap works back to the ball quickly. Ability to vary pace is a strong point. Smooth, fluid move. Needs more nuance, but athletic tools are there to separate.
Ball Skills - Highly inconsistent aspect of his game. Flashes of brilliance both above the rim and going low to dig balls out. Outstanding body control and a big catch radius, but concentration is a big issue. Far too many drops on tape, has to secure the ball quicker after the initial grab too. Has had issues tracking the football over his head. Will sometimes jump to secure the ball with his body, rather than high-point it away from his frame.
Speed/Burst - Not super explosive off the snap, but has the long speed to test cornerbacks vertically regardless. Considering his size, his speed is impressive despite the fact I don't think he'll test like a burner (4.4s). Eats up yardage and detaches from man coverage late. Doesn't feel like he plays every rep at top speed when you see his fastest plays.
Route-Running - Like most of his game, consistency is hard to come by. Shows good athletic traits as a route runner, and at times makes sudden cuts, although his landmarks are inconsistent. Should attack cornerbacks more aggressively with his burst into his patterns, but doesn't really force early opens against off coverage. Can fall off his patterns a bit on out-cuts. Contact down the field really bothers him, knocked off top of his routes too easily.
Contested Catch - Similar to his ball skills, highly inconsistent in this area. Had a couple awesome high-point contested grabs on tape, but struggled mightily to play through contact at the catch point in other situations. When defensive backs play the pocket, he can struggle to secure the ball cleanly. Has the elevation ability and body control to be better in this area.
YAC - Decision-making and vision are question marks. Has good athletic tools and the speed to take a short pass to the house if the path is there, but won't break a lot of tackles or show much creativity in space. First contact got him down consistently. Despite athleticism, not elusive in space or in 1v1 situations with the ball in his hands. Four fumbles on 112 career catches is not ideal.
Releases - Shows quick feet and the ability to switch up his releases (outside/inside), but can be slow off the ball due to upright stance pre-snap. Needs to look more engaged and immediately threaten defensive backs off the ball. When cornerbacks land their hands, he can struggle to disengage quickly. Has the length and strength to defeat press with more pro-ready technique, but will need to be a lot more aggressive off the ball.
Blocking - Inconsistent desire to block is the biggest issue. Traits are there, flashes are there, technique is inconsistent. Doesn't come into blocks under control and relies on length and strength to push defensive backs out of the way. Shows good effort down the field to help get a piece of a final defender when a teammate has the ball.
Competitive Toughness - Generally gives a good effort on the majority of plays, but definitely does not seem fond of contact and attention to detail wavers too often. Would not describe him as a physical receiver, but there are flashes of aggression that show what could be.
Athleticism/Size - Excellent size, length and athletic tools. Really fluid mover with enough suddenness to be considered explosive as well. Pro Day was hugely disappointing, not matching the athleticism he showed on tape. Was his training not as rigorous as it should have been?
BEST TRAIT - Length/Speed
WORST TRAIT - Inconsistent Ball Skills/Contested Catch
RED FLAGS - Torn ACL while at Tennessee. Served a suspension for an off-season misdemeanor assault charge. Transferred from Tennessee to Colorado State, sitting out the 2017 season.
Off-field concerns could make Preston Williams go undrafted or at least last into day three, despite the fact that he has ample natural talent. I don't buy into the "first round talent" hype that other quality analysts have ascribed to Williams, as he has too many inconsistencies in his ball skills and route running to trust him with that early of a selection.
However, the flashes with Williams are tantalizing, and his production during his lone complete college season is extremely impressive. Coaches will pitch that they can develop the nuances of his game in order to get their hands on his size, speed and leaping ability, but Williams' impact might be minimal in year one. By year three, he could be a top three contributor on an NFL receiving corps, with the ability to play inside and outside per the situation. But there's significant risk involved, and a lot to consider when drafting him.
Round Grade: Early 4th