Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Derrick Williams
Derrick Williams (WR)
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 194
College: Penn St.
Conference: Big Ten
Hometown: Greenbelt, MD
High School: Eleanor Roosevelt
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Detroit Lions
Round: 3
Pick (Overall): 18 (82)
Discuss
Pick Analysis: The Lions pick up a quality two-way contributor in Williams. The former Nittany Lion has outstanding return skills and is a potential third or fourth receiver in the Lions' lineup.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

The 2004 National Prep Player of the Year, Williams could have elected to attend any college or university of his choice. He knew that he would have an opportunity to be an immediate contributor and return Penn State to national prominence. Just days before Christmas four years ago, Williams made the commitment to Penn State and three weeks later he was enrolled at the University Park campus.


He made an immediate impact, bringing the play-making skills the team lacked and helping Penn State to an 11-2 record capturing the 2005 Big Ten Conference and 2006 Orange Bowl titles.


Although he wasn't formally elected a team captain until his senior season, Williams has been a highly respected leader throughout his career. The fruits of Williams' leadership have been a 40-11 record over the past four years, among the 10 best in the nation. He was instrumental in leading Penn State to its second Big Ten crown in four years and its


third different New Year's bowl game, having already beaten foes from the ACC, SEC and Big 12 in the postseason.


The highly-skilled Williams further solidified his status as one of the nation's most versatile and dynamic playmakers. He was one of just three players in the Joe Paterno era to gain more than 1,000 yards via kickoff returns in a career (1,095). He finished third in PSU annals with 161 receptions and fourth with 4,156 all-purpose yards. After hitting the trifecta as a sophomore and junior, scoring via receiving rushing and punt returns, Williams added a new scoring opportunity to that accomplishment by also returning two kickoffs for scores to go along with his four touchdown grabs, three rushing scores and one punt return for a touchdown in 2008.


At Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Williams fashioned a tremendous career. He was a consensus All-American and was named the Rivals.com and G&W Recruiting Report National Player of the-Year. An All-USA Today selection, he also was an All-Metro choice by the Washington Post. Parade Magazine honored him as an All-American all-purpose player. In 2004, he was the subject of a series of stories in the Washington Post on his senior season and recruitment.


During his senior season of 2004, Williams was 56 of 91 passes for 972 yards and 13 touchdowns, ran for 1,123 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 11 passes for 203 yards and two more scores. He also accumulated 479 punt return yards and added another score. As a defensive back, he had four interceptions and 34 tackles.


In his junior year, Williams rushed for 1,350 yards and 28 touchdowns and threw for 700 yards and five scores. He also recorded 46 tackles, 13 pass break-ups, three interceptions and three fumble recoveries in 2003, adding 760 return yards. He also was a sprinter on the track and field squad.


Williams made an immediate impact when he joined the Nittany Lions for the 2005 spring semester. While he was sidelined for Penn State's final five games (including the Orange Bowl) after breaking his left arm while returning a kickoff late in the game at Michigan, Williams' speed and athleticism helped jump start Penn State's drive to the Big Ten Championship while diversifying what developed into a very potent offense.


Named to The Sporting News Freshman All-Big Ten Conference team, he had six plays of 20 yards or more and averaged 11.7 yards on his 57 touches. He caught 22 passes for 289 yards (13.1 avg) and a score, adding 105 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries while also returning 13 kickoffs for 274 yards (21.0 avg). He lined up at split end, flanker and in the backfield and demonstrated his ability to beat teams running and receiving.


Williams again was a catalyst for the Penn State offense and special teams in 2006. A starter in 12 games, he was second on the team with 955 all-purpose yards, averaging 9.1 yards on his 105 touches. He made 40 receptions for 440 yards, giving Penn State a trio of players with 40 or more catches in a season for the first time.


Williams had 36 carries for 145 yards (includes a sack when lined up at quarterback), 25 punt returns for a 12.0-yard average (second-best in the Big Ten), four kickoff returns for a 17.2-yard average and one pass attempt.


A starter in all 13 games, Williams gained 1,121 all-purpose yards, second-highest on the team in 2007. He averaged a superlative 10.37 yards on his 108 touches, as he took on a larger role in the passing game, making a team-high 55 catches for 529 yards and three touchdowns.


Williams' 55 receptions were tied for third on the school single-season record list. He ranked third in the Big Ten in punt returns, averaging 11.0 yards on 23 returns. He also had an impressive rushing average, gaining 101 yards on 16 carries for a 6.3-yard average, with one touchdown.


Graduating in December 2008, Williams was selected a second-team All-American by The Sporting News and Walter Camp Football Foundation, adding first-team All-Big Ten Conference honors. He was the only player in the nation to score this season via a rush, reception, kickoff return and punt return. He accomplished three of the above during a brilliant performance in the primetime win over Illinois, becoming the first player under Joe Paterno to score a via a rush, reception and kick return in the same game.


Williams accumulated a career-high 241 all-purpose yards vs. the Illini, the most by a Nittany Lion since Larry Johnson in 2002. He ranked second in the conference with a 25.75-yard average on 20 kickoff returns, adding 169 yards and a score on 18 punt returns (9.4 avg).


Williams hauled in 44 passes, second on the team, good for 485 yards (11.0 avg) and four touchdowns. He also had 243 yards and three scores on 43 carries, finishing the season with 1,412 all-purpose yards, the 12th-best season total in school history.


High School

Attended Eleanor Roosevelt (suburban Washington, D.C.) High School, playing football for head coach Rick Houchens...Consensus All-American and was named the Rivals.com and G&W Recruiting Report National Player of the Year...All-USA Today selection...All-Metro choice by the Washington Post...Parade Magazine honored him as an All-American all-purpose player...During his senior season of 2004, Williams was 56 of 91 for 972 yards and 13 touchdown passes, ran for 1,123 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 11 passes for 203 yards and two more scores...Also accumulated 479 punt return yards and added another score...As a defensive back, he had four interceptions and 34 tackles...In his junior year, Williams rushed for 1,350 yards and 28 touchdowns and threw for 700 yards and five scores...Also recorded 46 tackles, 13 pass break-ups, three interceptions and three fumble recoveries in 2003, adding 760 return yards...Was a sprinter on the track and field squad...In 2004, he was the subject of a series of stories in the Washington Post on his senior season and recruitment.


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Analysis

Positives: Good height with a strong upper body. Quick off the line, reaching top speed within a couple of steps. Uses moves and his hands to get off press coverage. Lines up in the slot and outside. Finds holes in the end zone and presents a target. Typically solid hands, catching the ball away from his frame. Cognizant of the sidelines, and can tightrope or tiptoe to stay in-bounds. Good hands on returns, catching punts over his shoulder if necessary. Retains the catch after a big hit. Excellent straight-line speed and quickness; able to make the first defender miss. Takes direct snaps and handoffs, and is willing to run tough inside. Shows nice vision and toughness after the catch, as a returner and getting the occasional carry as a running back. Very willing blocker downfield, using his strength, good angles and sound technique to keep safeties and corners out of the play. Team captain as a senior, and a vocal leader in practice and during games. Deflects credit to his teammates after big games. Stayed a positive leader while not putting up huge numbers in 2008.


Negatives: Was never "the guy" at Penn State, so it's not clear if he's an elite receiver. Lacks the short-area quickness or elusiveness most top NFL returners exhibit. Needs to work a bit on his footwork coming in and out of routes. Does not always separate from defenders as his timed speed would indicate. Concentration lapses occasionally when trying to make a move after the catch.


Injury Report

2005: Missed the team's final five games after he suffered a left arm fracture vs. Michigan (10/15).


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