Scouting Report: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
A tight end prospect who could pay quick dividends
Maxx Williams is an important player to have a handle on for fantasy GMs, particularly those who will be participating in rookie drafts. Based on some of the things I am hearing on the interwebs, I am a little higher on Maxx than some. To me, Williams is exactly what we look for in a fantasy tight end. He’s a catch-first type who will often be playing detached, which obviously gives him an advantage over most traditional tight ends who spend a significant amount of time protecting the passer.
Williams played his final college season at age 20, which is relatively young. NFL teams will be getting a young ascending talent with no major injuries to speak of in his past or present. It’s no accident that the former Golden Gopher is a top prospect and no surprise that he’s such a natural athlete. Both of his parents were athletes at Minnesota. His father went on to play center for the Giants and was a first round draft pick back in 1989 while his mother played on the school’s volleyball team. Williams’ grandfather was a quarterback at Notre Dame and was drafted by the Bears in 1959, though he opted to not play pro ball. Now I’m not one to choose football players like race horses, but it certainly seems that talent runs in this family.
Williams spoke about having a father who played pro ball at the combine.
“It was a great experience having my dad play in the NFL and growing up around that kind of atmosphere, being in the locker room and seeing what the game's all about, actual inside the NFL, what football truly is. I think that's helped me in my career knowing that I know what it's like and I can fall back on my dad if I have any questions. He's one of those guys I've always relied on for those questions because he's been there, he's done it, he's succeeded at the highest level.”
On turning pro so young.
“I put a lot of thought into staying and leaving. Being only 20 and being a redshirt sophomore, it was a long process for me. It started about mid-season. It kind of crossed my mind that maybe I had an opportunity to leave. I finished the year playing well and after our last game against Wisconsin I really sat down with my parents and we actually made lists. I sat there and my parents and me wrote down pros of staying, pros of leaving, cons of staying, cons of leaving, and sat down there and just weighed each option. Took our time. Didn't want to rush anything or make a decision off emotion. It came down at the end it was the right time for me and my family to declare.”
On playing in a run-heavy power offense.
“It's the offense we ran. You can't get frustrated with it. I knew we were a power offense when I committed there. I think it actually benefited me because it taught me how to be an on-the-line blocker and play in a power scheme and it worked to our advantage because I had mismatches in the play-action game.”
On being 20 years old at the combine.
“I think the sky's the limit for what I can develop into. Like I said, being 20 I can develop my strength. And being able to develop in a system early in my career, being only 20, it gives me that much more time to develop into what they want me to be and just molding into the best player I can be.”
- Height - 6’4”
- Weight - 249
- Arms - 33.5”
- Hand - 10 3/8”
- 40 - 4.78
- Bench - 17
- Vertical - 34.5
- Broad - 9’9”
- 3-Cone - 7.30
- 20 Yd Shuttle - 4.37
- 60 Yd Shuttle - 12.31
The numbers are representative of what you see on his game film. He’s a big athlete with some agility but his best traits don’t really show up in his combine numbers. It’s worth noting that Williams has huge hands and long arms and that’s probably one of the reasons he is so tough on contested balls as I’ll get to.
- Size - As an in-line tight end, Williams is not that big, but as a primary pass catcher, he’s a lot to deal with for any single defender.
- Speed - At his size and with 4.78 timed speed, he’s a guy who can stretch the seam and make big plays.
- Ball Skills - His sample size is small, but based on his short career, Williams has some of the best ball skills in this draft and that includes the wide receivers. He’s got huge hands and long arms plus outstanding natural athleticism. He has the look of a perennial 10 touchdown guy if he stays healthy.
- Routes - Williams sells his routes well. He runs the seam and drag routes like a pro. You see traits in Williams that you don’t often see in 20-year old tight ends.
- Athleticism - Williams is a natural athlete from head to toe and you see it in his highlight reel. His hands and feet work together near the edges of the gridiron. Look at the body control on this touchdown. Not many 250 pound athletes make that play. And, watch him get both feet down on this touchdown. This guy already makes NFL caliber plays and he is still getting better. Another thing that Williams does better than the average receiver is transition from catch to run.
- Motor - Williams is a player who cares and who gives effort on every play and for the full play. If he was mis-cast as a blocking tight end, he’d still probably have a long career because he loves to compete.
- Blocking - He’s better than advertised in this area. Williams has the talent and desire to get better as a blocker and be an asset to his future team.
- Confidence - Williams has a little swagger and he backs it up with consistent play.
- Production - This is a key area to keep in perspective, because his lack of dominant numbers will scare some people away and create some opportunity in drafts. Even with the power scheme and just the two seasons, Williams totaled 13 touchdowns at Minnesota. That’s an attention-getter for sure. He also averaged 16.2 yards per reception over his career.
Draft Breakdown currently has three of Williams’ games available. You can find them here.
Call him what you want. A chess piece. A joker tight end. Williams will be a matchup problem at the next level and he’s a very predictable prospect. What he lacks in freakiness, he makes up for with pure football skill. He’s an exceptional coordinated receiver and especially so when you factor in his size and his freakishly large hands. Williams’ ceiling as a red zone threat is high and you could see a fantasy payoff in his rookie season, which is rare for a tight end.
It’s still somewhat early in the process, but right now, Maxx Williams is probably going to be in my top five rookies in long term and rookie drafts. He may not be the next great thing, but he’s got a great chance to be one of the elite producers during his time in the league. Only injury will keep him from having a very productive career.
The NFL should be just as high on Williams as we are. Coaches like Payton, Harbaugh, Belichick and Kelly will find it very hard to let him go by during the first round. Green Bay is another team that will find it hard to pass this guy up. I think Williams will be drafted higher than most are projecting.
I’ll firm up Williams’ fantasy value after the draft, but he has a chance at significant redraft value as a rookie.
More 2015 Scouting Reports:
- Post Draft Rookie RB Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft TE Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft QB Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft RB Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft WR Rankings
- 2017 Pre Combine Rankings
- Postseason Cheatsheets
- Tight End Rankings Week 17
- Wide Receiver Rankings Week 17
- Running Back Rankings Week 17