The selections made by the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2017 NFL draft made good on a promise to be a contender in the AFC West. They added heft to the offensive line, they added depth in the secondary and they added a talented receiver for Philip Rivers to throw to and there can’t be much more expected of a draft than that.
General Manager Les Snead and coach Sean McVay drafted their first-ever L.A. pick in Mike Williams, a wide receiver out of Clemson. The 6’4”, 220-pound Williams is battle tested and ready to withstand the pressure of expectations that come with being new to a major market.
He’s come a long way from breaking his neck during Clemson’s 2015 season. Williams collided with the upright stanchion after the junior had just gotten a foot down in the back of the end zone for a score. In the year prior to injury Williams registered 1,030 receiving yards and finished second on the team in both receptions and receiving touchdowns. A lot was expected of him on the football field and he was forced to miss all of the following season.
“I feel like everything happens for a reason,” said Williams. “I came back to Clemson, got my degree, came out with a national championship. The injury showed me I can’t take anything for granted. The game can be taken away from me at any point.”
A rigid cast immobilized his neck and required no activity to risk further injury. Williams had to see a neck specialist weekly to make sure his neck was healing properly. Most of all, the wide out was told to be patient. His perseverance paid off.
Williams returned as a second-team Walter Camp All-American and first-team All-ACC pick to catch 84 passes for 1,171 yards and 10 scores.
During his career at Clemson, Williams had the luxury of playing with fellow NFL first-round draft pick Deshaun Watson. In Los Angeles, he’ll be a target of veteran play caller in Philip Rivers.
Rivers texted Williams right after his name was announced by Commissioner Rodger Godell. “He actually texted me last night after the LA Chargers selected me. It was pretty good just to see him text me. He just congratulated me and said he’s ready to work. I just hit him back like, ‘Let’s get it! I need to learn this playbook so we can catch a few balls and have some fun.’”
Fun would be great for the newest professional team in Los Angeles. Winning would be better.