The Buffalo Bills have clear specifications for what they want at the receiver position. They prioritize quick, shifty players who can operate in space over those who are bigger players with a large “catch radius.” They do, of course, possess a diverse receiver room with players who have different skill sets, but they’ll put a group out that’s closer to the “Mouseketeers” of Jim Kelly’s USFL days before they put out a group of bigger wideouts.
This is especially true of Buffalo’s slot receivers, where they will utilize undersized, explosive players in lieu of larger men at the position. They did it with Cole Beasley over the last few years, and they did it with Isaiah McKenzie, as well. The former is gone from the roster, and the latter remains in his role as the team’s Swiss Army Knife.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile an undrafted rookie whose physical traits are a lot like McKenzie’s.
Name: Malik Williams
Height/Weight: 5’10” 185 lbs
Age: 23 (24 on 1/16/2023)
Experience/Draft: R; signed with Buffalo as UDFA following the 2022 NFL Draft
College: Appalachian State
Acquired: Signed as UDFA
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Williams signed a three-year contract worth a total of $2.56 million this offseason. None of that money is guaranteed, so he carries no dead-cap dollars if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster. If he does make the team out of camp, he carries a cap hit of $705,000 for the 2022 season.
2021 Recap: As a super-senior at App State, Williams was exceptionally productive. He was third on the team in receptions (52) and receiving yards (819), and he tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with seven. He also threw a 34-yard touchdown pass, had two carries for 13 yards, returned four kickoffs for 101 yards, and had nine punt returns for 90 yards. He played all 14 games for the Mountaineers, making six starts, and he was named Second Team All-Sunbelt Conference for his efforts. Although he only had those nine punt returns, he was also named Third Team All-Sunbelt as a punt returner by journalist Phil Steele.
Positional outlook: Williams finds himself on one of the most talented offenses in football, and the receiver group is filled with excellent players. Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Jamison Crowder, Isaiah McKenzie, Jake Kumerow, Marquez Stevenson, and Isaiah Hodgins all return from last year, as does Tanner Gentry. Buffalo added Khalil Shakir via the draft, and they signed Neil Pau’u as an undrafted free agent.
2022 Offseason: Williams is healthy and he participated in rookie minicamp. He’s ready to roll for training camp.
2022 Season outlook: The Bills definitely have a type at slot receiver, and they continue to acquire players who fit their vision. Crowder, McKenzie, and Shakir are going to make the roster, which leaves no room for Williams; however, don’t be surprised if the young man looks good in the preseason. He’s going to be a priority practice squad player for the Bills, as he fits the same kind of mold of the team’s other slot wideouts. He’s a bit slower in straight-line speed (Williams ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, while McKenzie and Shakir were around 4.42), but he has a bit longer frame and he is explosive in shorter areas (his 4.19 20-yard shuttle is right in between McKenzie and Shakir, and his 10’3” broad jump is also right on par with those two). Williams has some solid long-term potential.