The NFL Draft is a week away. In honor of the strong senior class being offered by the UW, we will profile a Husky each day leading up to the big event. Today, we continue with wide receiver Kasen Williams.
4/23: Micah Hatchie, OL
4/24: Kasen Williams, WR
4/25: John Timu, LB
4/25: Andrew Hudson, DL
4/26: Danny Shelton, DL
4/27: Macus Peters, DB
4/28: Hau'oli Kikaha, LB
4/29: Shaq Thompson, LB/DB
Kasen Williams | Wide Receiver | 6'3" | 217 lbs
Performance Notes: When he committed to his father Aaron's alma mater, Kasen Williams became one of the most important recruiting wins in Steve Sarkisian's tenure at Washington. Alongside Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Williams was one of two local five-star recruits in the 2011 class to pick the Dawgs, and he quickly proved deserving of his accolades, hauling in 113 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in his freshman and sophomore campaigns. Unfortunately, he suffered a gruesome leg injury halfway through his junior campaign that curtailed any meaningful production on his part until the end of the 2014 season.
Strengths: Kasen has the soft hands, leaping ability and wingspan coveted among third-down possession receivers in the NFL. In Williams' first two years at the collegiate level, it didn't take long for quarterback Keith Price to learn to throw the ball high in Kasen's direction and trust him to come down with it, and though the professional game is obviously far more nuanced than that, count me as at least one observer who expects to see him make more than his fair share of third-down conversions in The League. In terms of intangibles, everything we've seen of Kasen leads us to believe that he has a rock-solid character and work ethic that lets coaches at the next level sleep easy at night.
Weaknesses: If Williams is drafted, it will almost assuredly happen late, thanks to the Lisfranc injury and broken leg he suffered against Cal during his junior year. After declaring himself back at full strength in the weeks leading up to the 2014 opening game against Hawaii, it quickly became apparent that the senior wideout was anything but. He struggled to gain separation against mediocre defenders in the season's early going, tallying only six catches for 47 yards and one score in the first 10 games of 2014. He finished the season in comparatively strong fashion by collecting 13 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown in the year's final four games, but with the benefit of hindsight, it seems clear that Williams would have best spent the year rehabbing and utilizing his available redshirt season.
Ideal Fit: After his health struggles in the past 18 months, it seems clear that any team that picks up Williams will need to temper their expectations. Even after seeming to regain most of his strength toward the end of the year, Williams must still contend with the reality that transitioning to the NFL is difficult for virtually any first-year player, let alone one who spent most of his preceding season unable to trust his lower body to bear his weight without snapping like a twig. Given time to heal and foster chemistry with a capable quarterback, though, there's nothing to stop Kasen from becoming an absolute steal for a team that sees the same potential in him that led to his being named Parade Magazine's high-school player of the year in 2011.
Prediction: Undrafted; signed as an undrafted free agent
[Late Addition: This article just doesn't seem complete without a couple of highlights.]