What makes a talented, successful receiver bust in the NFL? Injury, criminal behavior, an unwillingness to work, disappearing tools, incompatible style, and being drafted by a broken franchise. That's my list, anyway. What made Mike Williams bust?
A Year Off
Williams was the other memorable talent caught in the Maurice Clarett mess. Williams made a bad decision following the legal limbo created by federal judge Shira Scheindlin's ruling that:
Scheindlin, accepting the antitrust-law arguments raised by lawyer Alan C. Milstein, ruled that the NFL could not bar Clarett from participating in the 2004 NFL Draft.
...and was barred from college football. Long story short: Williams went to seed in his season off. Kind of boned the Combine:
The knock against the 6-foot-5, 229-pound Williams has been his lack of speed. He ran two 4.59 40-yard dashes at the NFL combine.
...and was drafted 10th overall by the Lions.
The Six Inch Pianist
The 2005 Lions were 5-11 and featured two head coaches: Steve Mariucci and Dick Jauron. Mooch was fired after Detroit was beaten down at home by the mediocre Jim Mora Falcons. Jauron finished out the season and brought his pox to the people of Buffalo. Mariucci is who matters.
Mooch made his name coaching up Brett Favre and then road the dying embers of the San Francisco 49ers juggernaut. He landed in Detroit before retiring to broadcasting. He runs a Walsh through Holmgren type of offense that relies on timing and short patterns. Williams had played in a West Coast offense under Norm Chow, but the playbooks were different.
Williams caught passes from Joey Harrington and Jeff Garcia, and it was with Garcia that he achieved what little success he had. He had 29 receptions for 350 yards receiving overall, but 15 receptions for 192 yards in the five games Garcia led the team in pass attempts (4 starts, 1 rescue). All in all, Williams had a rotten rookie season on a rotten, dysfunctional team.
The Martz Year
New Lions head coach Rod Marinelli hired Mike Martz. He was aprototypical in the Martz system. Williams was traded to the Raiders a season later. There he was reunited with Lane Kiffin.
Williams barely had a chance to suck before this happened:
On October 28, 2007 in a road game against the Tennessee Titans, Raiders quarterback Daunte Culpepper threw a pass to Williams which, if caught, would have given the Raiders the first down and brought them into the red zone. Instead, Williams dropped the football and the Raiders lost possession, on a turnover on downs, and lost the game because the Titans maintained possession for the remaining time on the clock. Williams' error turned out to be his last play with Oakland as the Raiders released him a few days afterward.
He signed with the Titans. Chris Mortensen reported that Williams weighed 271 pounds at the time of the signing.
The Titans dropped Norm Chow and Mike Williams before the 2008 season. Chow signed with UCLA. Williams drifted out of the league. The complexity and notoriety of Williams failure makes it seem like he's been around forever, but he only turned 26 this January. He's certainly a bust, but is he a bad prospect?
By my tally, Williams busted because of:
Unwillingness to work
Being drafted by a broken franchise
And probably not: