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Is Brandon Williams a Julius Thomas Clone?

brandonwilliams

You might have noticed a trend with some of my recent publications. Asking if Travis Kelce could be a winning lotttery ticket in 2014 and telling you that Ladarius Green wants to win you fantasy football championships are both cut from the same cloth: I love athletic tight ends. So when Carolina’s second year basketball player-turned tight end Brandon Williams posted a 3-50-1 line in the Panthers first preseason game and earned PFF’s highest TE grade of week 1, you can bet my ears perked up. Williams wasn’t really on my radar until that game, so let’s learn about him together.

Physical Comps

Name College Height (in) Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Speed Score Bench Press Vert Leap (in) Broad Jump (in) Shuttle 3Cone Agility Score Freak Score
Vernon Davis Maryland 75 254 4.38 138 33 42 128 4.17 7 11.17 102
James Hanna Oklahoma 76 252 4.43 131 24 36 122 4.11 6.76 10.87 98
Chris Gragg Arkansas 75 244 4.5 119 18 37.5 125 4.51 7.08 11.59 84
Virgil Green Nevada 75 249 4.54 117 23 42.5 130 4.4 6.9 11.3 83
Craig Stevens California 75 254 4.59 114 27 27.5 114 4.31 7.07 11.38 81
Brandon Williams Oregon 75 248 4.56 115 26 36 128 4.53 7.25 11.78 80
Doug Jolley BYU 76 251 4.6 112 18 38 117 4.18 6.9 11.08 80
Ed Dickson Oregon 76 249 4.59 112 23 34 115 4.59 7.32 11.91 80
Eric Ebron North Carolina 76 250 4.6 112 24 32 120 4.45 7.49 11.94 79
Kellen Winslow Miami 76 247 4.62 108 24 33.5 120 4.1 6.71 10.81 75

We don’t really have production comps for Williams as he only played college ball for 1 season and recorded 2 catches for 48 yards. He suffered what he thought at the time was a career ending back injury before ending up on the Panthers roster, so physical comps are our best bet right now. This is a pretty solid list. Vernon Davis is sort of the holy grail of tight end comps and he actually posts a great Freak Score (though it is mostly meant for WR’s, I like to use it for tight ends just to see how they compare). Eric Ebron is another nice name to pop up on this list and I’m not horrified by the Ed Dickson comp either. Either way, it’s nice to see that players who look like Williams have had NFL success. He’s the prototypical size/speed combo that you want out of a deep dynasty prospect and should be treated as such.

Reality Of Playing Time

This is where it gets interesting for many preseason studs. Sure, Williams looks the part and played wonderfully in his first exhibition game, but he has a firmly entrenched starter in Greg Olsen ahead of him. Olsen played the 3rd most snaps at the tight end position last year, so it’s probably not likely that he gets displaced by Williams. However, the Panthers have historically used a lot of 2 tight end sets with Cam Newton as their quarterback. This goes back to Cam’s rookie season where both Olsen and Jeremy Shockey were viable fantasy options, and extends to last season when Ben Hartsock played 324 snaps in a complementary role. Hartsock was more of a blocker than anything else but given the relative blah-ness of the Carolina WR corps outside of Kelvin Benjamin, it’s not an impossibility that Williams picks up more snaps in 12 personnel packages. I wouldn’t advise buying immediately on Williams, but have already firmly placed him on my deeper dynasty rosters and my redraft waiver wire watch list. For teams planning on tight end streaming in 2014, Williams could emerge as viable option.

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