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Jacksonville Jaguars acquire Troy Williamson: Good Deal or Bad Deal?

Look, he caught that one!

In what can only be described as an "eh..." move, the Jacksonville Jaguars preemptively began the 2008 off-season as word leaked about a trade with the Minnesota Vikings.  The Jaguars, for better or for worse, have traded their 6th round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft for Troy Williamson.  

Troy is a former first round pick (7th overall) from the University of South Carolina.  Coincidentally, coming from the real USC might be the only thing I like about this trade.  Ok, I'm not going to be that unfair to the guy.  There has to be something of value there.

First off, he's fast.  How fast?  He ran a 4.32 forty back in 2005.  That kind of speed would be simply fantastic, if he could prove some sort of consistency in catching the ball.

Of course, that's what everyone is going to say about this trade.  That we got a guy who can't catch the ball.  And that's fine, it looks like a fair criticism, but let's remember one other thing about the situation Troy was in up in the great white north.

He's never had a consistent quarterback situation or any real offensive power to be a part of.  2005 was the dream season of injured Daunte Culpepper and Brad Johnson, averaging a tremendous 20 passing attempts per game.  2006 was another great year for quarterbacks, this time Troy had Brad Johnson, Tavares Jackson and Brooks Bollinger.  Finally, 2007, Jackson, Kelly Holcomb and Brooks Bollinger again.  Not the most inspiring group of passers, to say the least.  Let's not forget also that the Vikings changed coaches during this young players career, adding some inconsistency on that side of things as well.  Playing in Jacksonville with consistant coaches and a good offense should let him blossom into a good player.

VOICE OF REASON:
What are you talking about?  The guy had Adrien Peterson eating up 15 men in the box and he still couldn't get more than 18 receptions and 240 yards in 2007?  And if changing coaches hurt his development, how is changing coaches again going to help. I don't know how much Mike Tice is going to help him the second time around.  And yeah, the Jaguars offense is better than the Vikings, but it's still a run the ball first sort of thing, and he's shown that HE CAN'T EVEN EARN THE STARTING JOB ON A TEAM WITH NO RECEIVERS.  You'll have to do a better job convincing yourself that this was a good idea than that...

Of course, what was I thinking. now I've turned into a Troy Williamson apologist.  But if it's this easy for my untrained eye to jump on the kids bandwagon, there must be SOMETHING there on that the Jaguars coaching staff must see.  I should have guessed this was the direction we were going, especially when "young receiver that's yet to show what he can do" was the description I received about our hunt for a WR.  Troy is young, that's nice.  2008 will be his 4th season in the league.  And he's cheap.  6th round pick.  6th freaking round.  Besides, we have some compensatory picks coming in anyhow, so we'll be fine.  Worst case situation is that he is as bad as everyone tells me he is, and we cut him, no harm and no foul.  There's no way that Troy Williamson is our entire wide receiver solution, right?  Maybe his stats will tell us something good:

The Stats:

Breathe in, Breathe out.  Keep telling your self he's unproven, he's had a lot of changes, and he's a hard worker.  Right?  Hard work makes up for mistakes.  I need to stop freaking out, there's got to be a better bright side.

I know what will make us feel better, I'll ask Gonzo of the Daily Norseman to offer his opinion.  He'll say all the right things:

Well, the good news for Jaguars fans is that there might not be a guy on their roster that works harder than Troy Williamson.  Lord knows that over the course of the past three years, Williamson has done everything imaginable to improve his lot, from busting his tail in the off-season to going to the Nike Vision Clinic this past off-season and doing pretty much everything else the Vikings' franchise has ever asked him to do.  He does have outstanding speed, and hasn't had any problems gaining separation during his three years in the NFL.

Unfortunately, at this point in his career. . .to recycle a phrase I've used to describe Williamson before. . .the guy couldn't catch gonhorrea in a Vietnamese whorehouse.  Honestly, Williamson's entire career can be encapsulated in this play from the '07 season finale against the Denver Broncos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WZNyYouzuk

Note the speed. . .note the grace. . .note how he's 15 yards clear of the coverage.  Then note how the ball bounces off his chest. . .not even off his hands, but his chest. . .and falls harmlessly to the turf.  That sums up the last 3 years of Troy Williamson.

Maybe the kid felt too much pressure after being "the guy taken with the draft pick the Vikings got for Randy Moss."  Maybe a change of scenery will do him some good and he'll reach his potential in Jacksonville.  But as of right now, he's firmly entrenched in the Charles Rogers/Mike Williams group of recent wide receiver draft busts.  I thought that the Vikings were going to have to cut him, but the Jags must see something that myself and the rest of Vikings nation haven't seen yet.

Ok, not really that positive either.

Maybe the Star Tribune, who broke this story to begin with can find something nice:

The deal enables the Vikings some grace in parting ways with one of their all-time draft busts. The No. 7 overall pick in 2005, Williamson caught 79 passes for 1,067 yards and three touchdowns with the Vikings.

His three-year career has been more notable for the catches he hasn't made. His speed made him the prototypical deep threat, but his inability to judge the long pass was a constant source of frustration for the Vikings.

A Nike specialist determined last spring that his left eye was stronger than the right, causing depth perception problems. But prescribed exercises made little difference last season. Drops are not an official NFL statistic, but observers conservatively estimated he had at least 25 in 39 career games.

25 in 39, so he's Matt Jones?  ARRRGGGHHHH.

Actually, I'm being a little over dramatic.  He's a 6th round pick.  Receivers Coach Todd Monken must think that he's a demi-god after what he did to Reggie Williams this season, but give him a shot. What's the worst that could happen?  (Actually, here's the worst that could happen: Wilford leaves as a Free Agent, Mike Walker's knee  keeps him off the field, John Broussard still remains too thin to stay healthy for a whole season, Troy busts out, Reggie Williams returns to earth, Matt Jones decides to return to the farm, and Maurice Jones-Drew leads the team in receptions next year because no free-agents want to get the Jacksonville curse)

Time to start thinking positive.  There's NO WAY this is the only move we're making.  We'll get someone else in the draft, maybe a free agent, plus s the overall benefit of another year of Dirk Koetter calling the shots.

So no need to get all crazy, it's a 6th round pick for a guy that has tremendous upside.  Let's let the kid have his shot to prove everyone wrong.  Nothing says a good year like a chip on the shoulder.  Besides, at some point we'll have to trust that our coaching staff can identify talent.  What if he is the deep speed threat that we've always wanted?  This could be the real deal.

But, sadly, it'll be at least mini-camp before we actually get to see what we're getting!

-Chris