Seattle Seahawks: Holy Toledo! Stephen Williams Came from Where?

Stephen WilliamsIt seems the Seattle Seahawks keep finding gems in the most unusual places these days. This offseason, they acquired wide receiver Stephen Williams off waivers after he was released by division-rival Arizona Cardinals. Williams had originally made the Cardinals roster as an undrafted receiver from the University of Toledo. At 6’5” and 208 pounds, he has a big frame to go with his 4.4 40-yard dash time. It seems highly unusual that Arizona released him now looking back at his production already this preseason. The 27-year-old already looks like a man on a mission. He came for a roster spot, and he very well may have taken it.

The truth is, the Arizona coaching staff pointed to issues with his consistency catching the ball as a reason for giving up on the young receiver. He was also injured last season leading up to his release. However at many times in the past, Cardinals’ coaches spoke very highly of the undrafted Williams. He runs hard routes and has world-class speed. His only flaw in the past seemed to be consistency with his hands. That may be an issue the young receiver has overcome.

Throughout training camp, Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll has raved about this young wide receiver nobody had heard of. More often than not though, coaches use this type of thing as a motivational tool for their players. By calling Williams name out in front of reporters for being a performer, it was possible that the Seahawks’ coach was simply putting the rest of the position group on notice. After all, Pete Carroll and John Schneider have a history of being slightly deceptive when it comes to the media. However that certainly no longer appears to be the case given Williams’ performances through the first two preseason games.

In the Seahawks preseason debut against the San Diego Chargers, Williams flashed the explosive playmaking ability that the Seahawks’ staff had mentioned. He finished the game with two catches for a remarkable 83 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown from quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in Seattle’s win. Williams displayed smooth route running and the ability to get past cornerbacks in a hurry. His change of direction skills were also quite noticeable at times.

In Seattle’s second preseason game — their home debut — Williams again impressed with his speed. He racked up another two catches, this time for 45 yards and another touchdown — showing his last game was no fluke. Additionally, with Seattle’s starting wide receiver Sidney Rice coming back from a knee procedure and star offseason acquisition Percy Harvin likely done until at least December, Williams’ has a chance to make a real impact and endear himself to the fans of the Pacific Northwest.

Though much of the early attention regarding the wide receiver depth chart in Seattle is being paid to receiver Jermaine Kearse from the University of Washington, Williams is also vying to show he can run with the big boys and has so far made an awfully compelling case. The electrifying Kearse has likely done enough to earn himself a roster spot with his spectacular preseason performances and extra year of experience in Seattle. However, if Williams can continue his rapid progression, he could find himself rounding out a very young and intriguing position group in Seattle.