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Is New York Jets WR Mike Williams actually underrated?

New York Jets, Mike Williams, Garrett Wilson, Malachi Corley
New York Jets, Mike Williams, Garrett Wilson, Malachi Corley, Getty Images

Heading into the offseason, the wide receiver position was among the New York Jets greatest needs.

New York’s offense firmly showcased star weapon Garrett Wilson, but generally speaking, the rest of the group was underwhelming. Fortunately, this past offseason featured talented free agent and draft classes. The Jets tapped into both by signing Mike Williams in free agency and drafting Malachi Corley in Round 3.

With OTAs underway, the focus is on the rookie Corley, or the “YAC King,” as he was called in college. Corley is an exciting prospect, and Aaron Rodgers had high praise for his abilities; however, this has caused people to forget about a proven star on the roster who hasn’t taken the field just yet.

Mike Williams came to the Jets after seven seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, who released him this spring. Williams turns 30 this fall and is coming off a torn ACL, leading many to write him off.

Why would a recently released, old, injury-prone wide receiver make a difference? Well, it’s pretty simple: He’s one of the most impactful wide receivers in the NFL when on the field.

Williams has missed 19 of 51 possible games since 2021 (14 in 2023), yet has nine 110-yard games over that span, the ninth-most in the NFL. In three games before tearing his ACL in 2023, Williams racked up 19 receptions, 249 yards, and 1 touchdown. (Allen Lazard had 23 receptions, 311 yards, and 1 touchdown in the entire 2023 season.)

Once you break it down per game or snap, it’s clear that Williams is one of the better receivers in the league. Back in 2022, when he played 13 games, this where Williams ranked among 80 wide receivers with at least 50 targets:

  • Receiving yards per game: 68.8 (17th)
  • Catch rate: 70.0% (27th)
  • Contested catch rate: 57.7% (16th)
  • Drop rate: 1.6% (10th)
  • YAC per reception: 5.1 (13th)
  • Yards per route run: 1.93 (21st)
  • QB rating when targeted: 107.4 (20th)

Williams was comfortably a top-20 wide receiver in 2022 and even better over his brief stint in 2023. However, because of his injury and new NFL landing spot (Jets), Williams feels like a bit of an afterthought heading into 2024.

While his injury concerns are legitimate, too many people have written Williams off. If he’s healthy and at his best, the Jets will have two of the top 20 wide receivers in the NFL.

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