There has been a lot of talk this offseason about what Jacksonville’s receiving corps will look like. The team’s most productive receivers in the past two seasons, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones are gone, but the Jaguars have added plenty of bodies to help replace their production (or lack thereof).
Jacksonville picked up veteran Tory Holt and drafted productive collegiate receivers Mike Thomas, Jarrett Dillard, and Tiquan Underwood. This combination of youth and experience will join the team’s current group of receivers.
Dennis Northcutt had a respectable stat line of 545 receiving yards and two touchdowns last season, while Jacksonville fans are still optimistic about the potential that soon-to-be third-year veteran Mike Walker exudes. Yes, there are plenty of reasons to have optimist in regards to Jacksonville’s receivers, but there is one potential impact receiver that many have forgotten about; Troy Williamson.
Williamson has been a project player his entire career. The Minnesota Vikings took a leap of faith and selected the former South Carolina Gamecock in the first round of the 2005 draft in hopes of replacing Randy Moss. As a rookie, he showed spurts of the athleticism that influenced the Vikings to select him, but he has never quite reached anyone’s expectations, falling to accumulate over 455 yards in any of his four NFL seasons.
Jacksonville’s current assistant head coach, Mike Tice, was the head coach of the Vikings when the team selected Williamson and has an idea of what Williamson needs to do to turn his career around.
“I'm not the receiver coach, but I did draft him so I feel I can speak on him,” Tice told the Florida Times-Union. “He had a solid rookie season (24 catches), but then for whatever reason, he had some setbacks. He needs to make some contested catches. He needs to take the ball from somebody. Hopefully, that'll happen.”
Last year, the Jaguars acquired Williamson in the offseason via a trade in the hopes that he could be a deep threat, something the team lacked. Participating in just eight games and hauling in just five passes, Williamson didn’t necessarily wow the Jaguars in his first year with the team and as a result, the front office went out and drafted Underwood and Thomas, two receivers known for their speed.
With the team likely to keep just five receivers, Williamson will likely have to be flawless this offseason to find himself on the roster. So far Williamson has been impressive during camp, but that is not out of the ordinary for him. In fact, Williamson has been dazzling before in the offseason, regularly putting his 4.3 speed on display. In game situations though, Williamson has had difficulties hauling in easy passes.
"I make the easy catches always harder than what they're supposed to be and make the hard ones look easy," Williamson told the Florida Times-Union.
Becoming consistent is something that Williamson must do in order to keep his career afloat. Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio said that Williamson has done a good job competing so far in camp, but that he must do a little more than just be consistent.
"I think the key is for Troy to keep himself healthy so that he can have a chance to display his skill and his athleticism," Del Rio told the Florida Times-Union.
If Williamson can find a way to stay healthy and to combine his incredibly rare speed and athleticism, then he can become a tale of redemption in the NFL and the Jaguars will have their deep-threat. If he cannot put everything together in the next couple of months, then Williamson might be moving on.