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Bengals 9 for 9 NFL Draft Series: Mike Williams

With Mike Williams paired with A.J. Green, the Bengals’ pass attack would be nearly unstoppable.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After fielding one of the NFL’s best offenses in 2015, the Bengals took a major step back in that department last season.

Thanks to injuries to A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert throughout the year, the passing game was inept far too often for the Bengals to be a playoff team, which is why Cincinnati should look to add more playmakers in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Could that come as early as pick No. 9? If so, Clemson’s Mike Williams is viewed as one of the top offensive prospects in this year’s draft, not to mention arguably the best wide receiver.

Williams was a monster during his college career, racking up 57 catches for 1,030 yards (18.1 ypc) and six touchdowns as a sophomore in 2014. But in 2015, the 6’4”, 218-pound receiver nearly saw his career end after fracturing his neck by hitting his helmet against the goal post on a touchdown catch in the season opener.

Williams missed the rest of the season, but returned with a vengeance in 2016, catching 84 passes for 1,171 yards and 10 scores. Many of those scores came in jump-ball situations in which he simply out-muscled and out-jumped his defender with ease. Williams was a big part of Clemson’s College Football Playoff run and win, recording eight catches for 94 yards and one score in the championship game against Alabama.

Williams is a lock to go in the first round and may not even make it out of the top 10, so if Cincinnati wants him, it will cost the No. 9 pick. That’s awfully high to draft a receiver for a team that doesn’t need one that badly, but if the Bengals simply go with the best player available, Williams may be that guy.

Here’s the case for why Cincinnati should take Williams at No. 9:

  • Williams is the best jump-ball receiver in this draft, and that’s exactly what the Bengals have been searching for since Marvin Jones left.
  • Unlike Jones, Williams is more of a complete receiver who could easily be a No. 1 guy in most NFL offenses. Williams can run most of an NFL route tree and be effective doing so.
  • Just the thought of Green and Williams in the same offense would bring fear to any secondary.
  • Green has never had a running mate as good as Williams, so taking the latter would allow the former to have more freedom more than we’ve seen thus far.
  • It’s clear Andy Dalton needs receivers who can adjust to errant or slightly off passes, something Green is great at, but something no other current Bengals receiver can consistently do.
  • The Bengals badly struggled to convert in the red zone last year, but the combination of Green, Williams and Tyler Eifert would easily be the best red-zone trio in the NFL.
  • Speaking of, having Williams would help the offense remain efficient in case Eifert and/or Green are injured again.
  • The last time the Bengals spent a top-10 pick on a receiver was Green, so recent (and limited) history says Williams here would be a great pickup. If Williams is selected the Bengals would have used both of their two top 10 draft picks during the Dalton-Green era on wide receivers.

Here’s why the Bengals should pass on Williams at No. 9:

  • While adding a big playmaking receiver would be nice, spending a top-10 pick on one is unnecessary with Brandon LaFell, Cody Core and Tyler Boyd already flanking Green.
  • It doesn’t help that Dalton is more of a one-read quarterback, and that one read often is for Green, making it hard for any No. 2 receiver to say involved in this offense.
  • With Green and Eifert already in this offense, it’s going to be hard for another pass-catcher to make a big impact, let alone live up to his billing as a top-10 draft pick.
  • Williams is a great prospect, but he may not even be the best receiver in this draft with Western Michigan’s Corey Davis and Washington’s John Ross.
  • He’s already had one major college injury, and the Bengals have rotten injury luck as it is with injuries.
  • Williams’ speed leaves a lot to be desired and it’s hard to see him consistently getting separation from NFL corners.
  • There are far too many other pressing needs to spend a top-10 pick on a receiver over a position like defensive end, linebacker, running back or even offensive tackle.

All told, the case for drafting Williams at No. 9 is good, but the case for not taking him there seems just as good, if not greater.

What do you think about the Bengals potentially drafting Clemson WR Mike Williams?