[Editor's Note: This story was originally published on PFF.com on March 29, 2017]
With the 2017 NFL Combine well in the rearview mirror and the focus now on cross-examining every facet of play for hundreds of draft-eligible players, the Pro Football Focus team has put together a list of some of the more intriguing prospect matchups from the 2016 season — one-on-one meetings that featured players who are surely going to hear their name called come April.
Whether it was a quarterback targeting a cornerback or an edge defender blowing past an offensive tackle, some 2016 games pitted top players against one another in a preview of how they may fare against next-level talent. We’ve been revealing these matchups one at a time over the past few days.
Here are some of the matchups we've broken down thus far:
Cal QB Davis Webb vs. Top Pac-12 CB prospects
Miami CB Corn Elder vs. Top ACC QB prospects
QB Chad Kelly vs. CB prospects Tre’Davious White and Marlon Humphrey
Today we take a look at former Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams versus some of the top defensive back prospects on PFF's draft board, including Florida State's Marquez White, Ohio State's Gareon Conley and Malik Hooker, and Alabama's Marlon Humphrey.
CLEMSON WR MIKE WILLIAMS VS. TOP 2017 DB PROSPECTS
The first wide receiver to be taken in Senior Analyst Steve Palazzolo's latest mock draft, Clemson WR Mike Williams had an impressive 2016 season. He was targeted 142 times and hauled in 99 receptions for 1,360 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, against some of this year’s top draft-eligible defensive backs, Williams did not fare as well as one may have imagined.
In Clemson’s narrow victory over Florida State, Williams was targeted three times against Seminoles CB Marquez White (PFF’s 20th-ranked CB prospect). He caught two of those passes for just 22 yards and was held without a TD against White. In Clemson’s playoff victory over Ohio State, the Tigers' star WR had a tough time against two of the Buckeyes’ top defensive backs in Gareon Conley (ninth overall CB prospect) and Malik Hooker (second overall safety prospect). Williams was targeted four times in Conley's coverage, catching just two of those passes for 27 yards with no touchdowns, while the Ohio State CB came down with an interception. Williams saw two targets versus Hooker, catching just one pass for 2 yards.
On college football’s biggest stage — against Alabama for the College Football Playoff Championship — Williams played well, but was still held without a touchdown when targeted in Marlon Humphrey's coverage.