So much for good news on Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jameson Williams and the knee injury he suffered in Monday night’s National Championship game. Many assumed Williams dodged a serious injury after Alabama coach Nick Saban said Williams wanted to return to the game in the second half. But on Tuesday, any hope that Williams’ knee was intact was lost. He did, in fact, tear his ACL.
Alabama's Jameson Williams, the projected top WR in the 2022 NFL Draft, tore his ACL last night vs. Georgia, per sources. Doctors believe that, after surgery within the next 10 days, Williams will retain his sub 4.3 speed, and they expect a full recovery.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 11, 2022
Williams’ injury means he’ll be on the shelf for anywhere between nine and 12 months. His rookie season is lost, and his first-round grade might be too. Sure, teams in the latter portion of Round 1 might take a swing on Williams because let’s face it, they’re probably the clubs that have a deeper and overall better roster based on where they finished in 2021. But whenever a player’s big grade is based on his blazing speed, a knee injury (or any leg injury) is a significant red flag. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Williams is the hot name at the top of the second round that teams aggressively try to trade up for.
Williams’ injury will have a ripple effect on the 2022 wide receiver rankings, too. Williams will fall from the top spot, meaning prospects like Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, as well as Arkansas’ Treylon Burks and USC’s Drake London (who has injury issues of his own), will be in the mix.
Burks is a name to circle as draft season begins to pick up steam. He’s a dynamic combination of size and playmaking ability and has some qualities similar to San Francisco 49ers star, Deebo Samuel. If he runs well at the NFL Combine, he could easily become the first wideout picked now that Williams is most likely out of the mix.
Penn State’s Jahan Dotson’s stock will get a boost too, especially for teams that are hoping to add a healthy speedster to their wide receiver room. While he won’t make a jump all the way up to the top of the rankings, he could get pushed up as a firm first-round player as injuries mount at his position.
Williams’ injury is a disappointing turn of events for a player who had a chance to be picked in the top 15. Hopefully, he makes a full and speedy recovery and emerges in 2023 as the downfield playmaker most draft analysts are projecting him to become.