The Miami Dolphins may have found a diamond in the rough after the 2019 NFL Draft, signing undrafted free agent Preston Williams. While Williams’ NFL career has featured an offseason workout program, a couple weeks of training camp, and one preseason game, he is starting to turn heads and make people notice him.
His stature alone should cause people to notice. Listed at 6-foot-five, Williams is two inches taller than the next tallest wide receiver on Miami’s roster. During this past Thursday’s game, Williams used his size to his advantage, boxing out and out jumping defenders.
“You heard ‘X’ (cornerback Xavien Howard) talk about him the other day,” wide receiver Kenny Stills said of Williams’ performance in Thursday 34-27 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. “He’s a first-round talent. He’s going to be somebody to deal with in this league for a long time, and so we’re looking forward to everything that he can do. I think the receivers as a whole played a good game, and the quarterbacks shined and did their thing. It’s not that big of a deal, but it’s a big deal for us to come out there and play hard and to get a victory in a preseason game.”
“I think he’s worked extremely hard really since he got here,” head coach Brian Flores said of the receiver. “He’s big, he’s fast, he’s got good hands, he’s tough, and he’s really worked every day to get better. We tell him to block in the run game, he blocks in the run game, play more downhill on your end cuts, he does that. He works hard after practice, he works hard in meetings, and it showed up tonight.
Can Williams become a “number one” receiver, filling a role Miami has needed for several years? “[It’s] very early,” Flores explained. “I think this is a talented young receiver. There’s a lot of talented people in this league. To get to a number one status is, he’s got a long way to go, but does he have that potential? I would say he does and it’s up to him to do the things he has to do to reach that potential. We’ll help him though. I think he’s done a really good job over the course of the spring and summer.”
Stills added, “You guys see the flashes of the talent that he has, and hopefully he can continue to get better and we can find a way to get him in the lineup and get him some catches throughout the season.”
Quarterback Josh Rosen, battling to earn the starting job this year over Ryan Fitzpatrick, lobbed a pass toward Williams during Thursday’s game that could easily have been picked off. It was a jump ball just thrown in Williams’ general direction - and the receiver came down with the ball. Rosen said after the game he knew exactly who he was targeting on the throw and exactly what would happen when he did throw it. “Preston can go get the ball,” Rosen stated. “So you’ve got some guys that are smaller, quick and fast, some guys are physical, some guys – and Preston will go get the ball, so you’ve got to give him those opportunities.”
Williams finished the contest with four receptions for 97 yards, both game highs. “When coach gave me the opportunity, I was just tried to make the most of it,” Williams said after Thursday’s game. “I didn’t have any expectations really coming into this game, but when my number was called, I just wanted to answer.”
He continued, touching on the depth chart and the receivers ahead of him on the roster, “I got a lot of great guys around me, a lot of vets. I learn from a lot of them. I’m actually glad they’re here. It’s my first year, I can learn from everybody; everybody has a different past. I’m here taking from everybody, learning.”
It is still early in camp, but the Dolphins could be getting close to Williams establishing himself, not as just a member of the roster, but an impact player who can teach others, rather than just learn the art of the position for himself.