The next wide receiver in our series is the Jaguars Dance King: Reggie Williams, no 11
Born in Landstuhl Germany on May 17th (Happy Birthday Reggie!!!) Reggie was the 9th overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft. For purposes of context, he was the third receiver picked after Larry Fitzgerald (no 3) and Roy Williams (no 7).
This was also the draft that saw Jacksonville pass on Ben Roethlisberger (no 10) having drafted Byron Leftwich (no 7 overall, 2003). Again, for context, other players taken near the Jags draft pick that year are: Jonathan Vilma (no 12), Lee Evans (no 13), Mike Clayton (no 15), and Steven Jackson (no 24).
Of course, it's impossible to know how these things play out, the same draft also had the disappointments of Robert Gallery, Kellen Winslow II, and Ahmad Carroll. It is often alleged that Jacksonville reached with Reggie and that they could have traded down and still gotten their man. Shack Harris is adamant that was not possible, saying:
When Reggie Joined the team Jacksonville was a team in transition while shifting from Coughlin's leftover salary cap debacle to the Jack Del Rio era. Mark Brunell was shipped off to Washington and Byron Leftwich would take the reins. The teams offense consisted of Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith and desperately needed playmakers.
Reggie came out of the University of Washington with a reputation for big catches using his height and weight to pummel pac-ten cornerbacks, ammasing 1,109 yards in his junior year in only 89 receptions, and 8 touchdowns. While his speed was never legendary, he's known for being quick, whatever that means.
A theme running through the Jaguars first round receivers is the problem of expectations. As soon as he was drafted he was ordained as the eventual replacement of Jimmy Smith. Vic Ketchman said:
So that's where he came from, let's look at what he's done.
Obviously he's not been the "touchdown machine" that the number nine pick demands, yet he's done enough to not quite justify the bust tag. Remember early last season when Reggie was on fire? It looked like Byron and Reggie had really clicked and he was doing fantastic through the first four games. Then he vanished.
Reggie seems to have the tools to be a good wide receiver, albeit a different sort of receiver than we expected. He will not be the speedy down the field threat that Jimmy Smith was. That's just not his style. Reggie's performance seems to be directly tied into Byron's arm, when Leftwich is throwing, he does great. David Garrard seems to have a blindspot toward number 11, look at the 6 catches for 90 yards he got after David was benched against Kansas City.
Reggie is in a pretty interesting situation this year. Of the "first round" wide receivers he's probably the most vulnerable, given his hot and cold streaks. What you might not know is that Reggie's contract allows him to void the last two years (08,09) and become a free agent at the end of this season. I'm a big fan of players in their contract year, just as I think Byron is going to bust out this year because the bank is waiting, I think Reggie is going to do the same. I do know this, one way or another, Reggie will not be a Jaguar next year. If he excels and performs like he's expected to, he'll become a Free Agent and some hopeless team will pay a massive amount of money for the chance at greatness. If he plays like he did in late 05 and 04, he'll be off the team and probably unemployed.
This is a serious challenge to Reggie Williams. He knows he's a talented receiver that has suffered from an unusual quarterback situation. He's represented by the Postons, who have to be very aware of the potential cash cow of free agency, especially given the huge payouts to receivers like Wes Welker. This is an absolute make or break year for Reggie.
Stats prediction. I'd say somewhere around 60 receptions, 900ish yards, and 7 touchdowns. Just enough to merit consideration as a Free Agent, and maybe enough to keep him on the team.
That's the look back at Reggie Williams. Next week we'll look at fan favorite Ernest Wilford, as well as Charles Sharon, Mike Walker and Dennis Northcutt.