Since the departure of Laurent Robinson, the Dallas Cowboys have been trying to find a solid No. 3 receiver. The ‘Boys made yet another attempt in the 2013 NFL Draft when they selected Baylor standout Terrance Williams in the third round. Now the job is Williams’ to lose despite tough competition from Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley. Put simply, the former teammate of Robert Griffin is up for the challenge.
Before the arrival of Williams, Beasley was easily the best third receiver option on the Cowboys’ roster, although the misguided Dallas coaching staff still apparently doesn’t see that. However, Williams was an absolute steal in the third round and could develop into a better player than Beasley simply because of his size and raw athletic ability.
But Williams’ upside doesn’t stop there; he consistently improved throughout his college career and took full advantage of Baylor’s wide-open, pass-happy attack by posting career numbers as a senior: 97 catches for 1,832 and 12 touchdowns. That improvement was a direct result from Williams’ work to get better fundamentally. The biggest knock against him coming into the draft was that he didn’t sink his hips deep enough when making lateral cuts, although he showed that he has almost perfected that ability at the combine.
That worked out well for the Cowboys, who got a potential superstar in the third round. Williams is really a less raw-talented, more fundamentally-sound version of Dez Bryant; he attacks the ball when it’s in the air, which is arguably Bryant’s top trait as well. Williams is big and strong at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds and he knows how to use his size to overpower small defenders. In addition, he has the unique ability to fool a defender with his body while running routes and knows how to position himself to make tough catches.
Being the third receiver for the Cowboys is mostly about filling in because Bryant and Miles Austin are often injured and Dallas is going to utilize a two-tight end base scheme this year, which means less three-receiver sets. So when Austin or Bryant is hurt, Williams will need to be able to step in and play like a full-time starter on the outside. At least that’s what the Cowboys would like.
When everyone is healthy, Williams will need to be Tony Romo‘s second security blanket. That’s a special position because tight end Jason Witten is the primary security blanket, but other teams know that, so he’s not always open in the red zone. For Williams to succeed as the Cowboys’ third receiver, he needs to be able to get open in the red zone often because missed opportunities down there have been Dallas’ Achilles heel for years.
Of course, developing chemistry with Romo for situations like that is hard right now because the Cowboys’ signal-caller is out after surgery to remove a cyst from his back. Romo should be back for training camp, but that’s still almost two months’ worth of work that Williams won’t get with his quarterback. Thus, it’s deja vu for the former Baylor Bear to improve on his own and be ready for all of the different hats he’ll have to wear as the Cowboys’ No. 3 receiver in 2013.