Derrick Williams was the top overall recruit in 2005, and he enrolled early at Penn St to see the field as a true freshman. He earned a starting nod in camp and had a very solid freshman season, despite missing five games with a broken arm. He caught 22 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown along with 105 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. As a sophomore he hauled in 40 passes for 440 yards and a touchdown, while adding 145 yards and a touchdown as a runner. Williams was again an all purpose threat as a junior, catching a career high 55 passes for 529 yards and three touchdowns and he added another 101 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Williams continued his all around playmaking ability as a senior. He hauled in 40 passes for 451 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 226 yards and three scores on the ground. Williams averaged over 9 yards per punt return including one touchdown and took two kicks back for scores in addition to his 27 yard average.
Williams is a jack of all trades type, and that versatility will help him in the NFL. He has played wide receiver, quarterback, running back, punt returner, and kick returner for the Nittany Lions. He clearly projects as a wide receiver but his athleticism has allowed him to impact the game in many ways. Williams is a good natural athlete, that is shifty and tough to catch in the open field. His quickness and ability to change direction suit him very well with the ball in his hands, and will allow him to make plays as a receiver and returner.
All that moving around has limited Williams’ experience and effectiveness as a true wide receiver. He has not lived up to the expectations as a receiver, although his overall impact has been impressive. He will need to sharpen his route running skills and prove he can make a bigger impact in a traditional receiver role, otherwise he will have to be used as a player that creates mismatches based on where they line up. That may not be a bad thing, but you’d like to see his playmaking skills as a receiver a little more.
Williams should be able to be a very good NFL player because he will create a lot of problems for defenses with his versatility. He will need to put in more work to fine tune his game as a wide receiver, but the work ethic and talent is there. Williams has had an up and down post season. He showed up at the combine ill but decided to run anyway. He clocked a very disappointing 4.64, but you have to admire the competitiveness to get out and perform. At his pro day, he fared much better, running as low as a 4.37. His pro day performance is more along the lines of what you saw on the field, although he does not quite appear to be as fast as that timing with the pads on.