By Max Luckan
Mike Williams, WR, #19
Weight: 212 lbs.
Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Experience: 3 years
It's unclear whether the Tampa Bay Buccaneers saw wide receiver Mike Williams as a number one receiver when they drafted him, but they did see a receiver with plenty of potential to excel when in the right situation. Williams played extremely well in 2010, but had a down year in 2011, which can be attributed to multiple factors. Remember, the whole Bucs team was in disarray in the 2011 season. But so far in 2012, Williams has returned to top form and he's formed a nice duo with teammate Vincent Jackson.
Williams, born in Buffalo, New York, attended Riverside Institute of Technology in Buffalo for high school. In high school, Williams played both offense and defense, which is common for players in high school, but excelled on the offensive side. As a senior, he had 970 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns.
It's no wonder, then, that Williams was recruited by Syracuse, and ultimately decided to play football there. His college career started off well. As a sophomore, Williams was an all-Big East second team selection, but ran into some trouble off the field the following season. In 2008, Williams was suspended for the entire season because of academic troubles. It didn't get much better after that for Williams. In 2009, after starting off the season with 49 receptions for 746 yards and six touchdowns, Williams quit the football team, as he was facing a possible suspension due to a violation of team rules. Obviously, this decision likely had a major impact on his draft stock in a negative way. However, the Bucs ended up drafting him.
The Bucs took Williams with the 101st overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft because they liked his measureables coming out of college. He made his debut against the Cleveland Browns, racking up five catches for 30 yards and a touchdown. 2010 was his rookie season and a good one at that. Williams finished the year with 11 touchdowns, which set a Bucs franchise record. However, 2011 was a different story. Williams finished the 2011 season with a disappointing 771 yards and only three touchdowns.
By now, the Bucs probably know that Williams isn't a true number one guy, which is why they went out and signed Vincent Jackson in the 2012 offseason. But that doesn't mean he can't develop into one. Or, if that's not a feasible option, Williams has already turned into a nice complement to Jackson, who is a true number one receiver. Williams is making a base salary of $540,000 this season and is signed through the 2013 season. He's played well this year and if he improves next season, he'll likely garner a large contract. It's too early to determine whether or not the Bucs would consider re-signing Williams past next season, but he's been extremely consistent in 2012, making 50 receptions for 799 yards and seven touchdowns so far.
Of course, Williams had some off the field trouble in college, but hasn't had any major issues in the NFL, so that shouldn't be a problem for head coach Greg Schiano, whose regime doesn't tolerate players that cause distractions.
This year, Williams is playing like he's in a contract year, and he's helped solidify a receiving corps that's been inconsistent the last couple of years.
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. You can find more of his work at Examiner.com.
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