Nate’s Notebook: The Legend of Duke Williams
Roster cuts are right around the corner and one of the more interesting position battles is taking place at the wide receiver position. Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane have their work cut out for them when it comes to choosing which players to keep at a position of a suddenly surprising depth. Directly in the center of the debate is the man, the myth, the legend, Duke Williams.
Duke Williams has an amazing backstory. He started out in junior college, was cut from the Rams, spent two years in the CFL, and finally landed in training camp with the Buffalo Bills. But inspirational stories only go so far. At some point, you have to show talent and production, and this preseason, Williams has shown both.
Preseason exceptions apply but Williams has spent the better part of a month looking like the Bills best receiver, or, at the very least, like its most physically dominant receiver. At 6’3” and 225 lbs, there isn’t another wideout on the Buffalo roster that brings the skill set and size that Williams offers.
Williams isn’t a flash in the pan. His rise to legitimate NFL receiver doesn’t feel like preseason hype or a well-timed fluke. It feels real. After dominating at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Williams committed to Auburn. He was a 5-star recruit that had offers from all of the power programs including Alabama, LSU, Florida State, and Miami. It didn’t take long for Duke to start doing 5-star things.
He led Auburn in receiving in his first year on campus. His final year didn’t go quite as well. Williams was expected to dominate the SEC and use that success as a springboard into an NFL career. Unfortunately, Williams wouldn’t finish his senior season after being kicked out of school for being involved in an altercation at a bar. The potential character concerns and an underwhelming combine performance led to Williams going undrafted.
Duke Williams’ talent has never been in question. It was clear in community college. It was clear at Auburn. It was clear in the CFL when he led the league with 88 receptions for over 1,500 yards last season. And it’s been clear this preseason with the Bills when he’s done things like this…
Fans will know soon whether or not Duke Williams has made the final roster. I suspect he has done enough to earn a spot on the team, and I have a hunch that we haven’t seen the last of his highlights for 2019. Let’s just hope the next one happens in a Bills uniform.