The Buffalo Bills have signed so many NFL free agents this offseason that it’s easy to forget they picked up the leading receiver for the Canadian Football League in D’haquille “Duke” Williams. With Buffalo Rumblings giving the skinny on all these additions, it’s only fair we do what we can to cover Duke Williams. The only problem is finding film that isn’t a YouTube highlight reel...
As it happens, Williams was on the Los Angeles Rams for the 2016 preseason. While it’s not the preferred film to look at, it’s what I can reasonably get my hands on. Note that preseason games don’t give access to the All-22 angles so we’re rolling with the broadcast view. There’s nothing spectacular about the route but it is timed well. Williams gets his hands on the ball and pulls it in. No double-clutch. No waiting for it to come to his chest. With the highlighted frame, it’s hard to tell without adequate replay angles (there were none) but this is the only moment in which Williams might have been down by contact. It’s questionable for sure and Williams rightfully keeps going. A whistle kills the play, but you gotta love the effort.
It’s hard to get good views of a blocking receiver so this will have to do. The extended arms are highlighted as in the limited tape to review this was common for Duke Williams to engage like this. It tends to lead to more of a chip block than solid engagement. Despite the highlight clip of Williams destroying an opponent we’ve all seen, blocking was not a strong suit back in 2016.
The same things in play 1 can be said again here. This play, though, shows off his willingness to go get the ball. The ability to lock catch with just his hands comes in, uh...handy here. He maintains control and churns ahead for a few yards. Williams had a few more targets with his time in the NFL preseason and his willingness to fight for the ball showed up consistently. The other plays weren’t pulled in because the passes were less than great.
Unfortunately the film available for Duke Williams is limited to highlight reels and preseason footage. Preseason looks show a player that struggled with route running and blocking. However, with most players on the field playing half speed it’s hard to get a very good gauge on either aspect. On the plus side of the ledger, solid catching and tons of fight stand out as well.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least check out some highlights. (Here’s a really good reel.) From what’s available on YouTube, the fight and hand-catching habits seem to hold true. Good body control and a major desire to fight for the ball also stand out. None of the highlights have any “wow” routes or finesse techniques, but the deep ball and tracking skills look like Josh Allen could show off some arm strength. If you only watch part of the video, fast forward to about three minutes. The concentration and tracking is pretty nuts.
Expectations should be tempered in both directions. With no “low-light” reel or “average-light” reel to go from it’s hard to tell where any of this fits in as part of Duke Williams’s normal. There’s plenty to like and fans should be excited to see if Williams can jump from CFL star to NFL star.