Tight end Maxx Williams turning pro, so how good is he?

It’ll be a dry year for tight ends in 2015. There’s a lack of depth and no obvious first round stand-out.

Michigan’s Devin Funchess reverted to wide receiver this year and a lot of people think he should make the switch back. For me — he’ll be used as a big receiver whatever title you give him. Watching the Ohio State tape you see a player with a lot of potential — it’s just a shame the rest of his career at Michigan was so thoroughly underwhelming. He needs to be pushed.

Minnesota’s Maxx Williams is the closest thing to a rounded tight end who can block and receive. He’s only a redshirt sophomore but according to reports today he plans to declare. I guess he’s striking while the iron is hot. Need a tight end? By default you’re going to spend a lot of time looking at this guy.

So what is he?

For the most part he’s been used as a blocking tight end and a redzone target. That’s not such a bad thing for the Seahawks considering they like blocking tight ends and need a redzone threat. But these types of prospects don’t tend to go early.

He had a 52-yard grab against Northwestern and a 53-yarder against Wisconsin. It shows he can make big gains in the passing game. The question is — can he expand beyond the role he had in Minnesota? The Gophers ran the ball 566 times this year compared to 221 throws. It’s not a tally conducive with great receiving stats. Is he a fairly modest blocking tight end without unique size (6-4, 250lbs) or great speed? Or can he show over the next couple of months that he is capable of being a dynamic receiver/blocker?

He doesn’t look big or particularly fast. He is incredibly reliable. This article by Darren Wolfson suggests he could sneak into the first round. That might be a stretch, barring a freakish work out at the combine. For me he looks like a solid third round type at best who could provide some value. Perhaps he sneaks into the second. Again, much will depend on his work out — even in a weak class for tight ends.

Rob Gronkowski is 6-6 and 265lbs. Jimmy Graham is 6-7 and 265lbs. Antonio Gates on the other hand is a comparable 6-4 and 255lbs. Nobody is going to mistake Williams for the freak-of-nature tight ends dominating the NFL over the last few years. He’s the son of former NFL center Brian Williams — a first round pick (#18 overall) in 1989. He had ten years with the New York Giants. His grandfather (Robert Williams) was a quarterback at Notre Dame and a former draft pick in 1959 by Chicago.

Here’s the tape:

It’s tough to judge his potential watching only his most productive performance of the season, but it’s all we’ve got for now. In terms of blocking there’s not much to complain about but neither is there anything really to excite. He does his job for the most part. He doesn’t blow anyone up in the video above. He takes a lot of snaps at H-back and roams around like a glorified lead blocker.

At the 2:08 mark he makes an eye-catching sideline grab, dragging a toe in bounds to make a leaping catch. It’s excellent control and skill rather than brilliant athleticism here — which kind of sums him up as a prospect. Modest but really, really effective.

At 2:49 he does a good job getting open in the endzone for the first score. Solid movement, understands the route and executes perfectly. At 3:39 it’s more of the same — another fantastic route to the back of the endzone straining to get in position to make another very accomplished grab. It’s effort and determination plus more execution. Totally solid. The final touchdown is a nice little crossing route — nobody picks him up and it’s a wide open score.

It’s hard to say this is what the Seahawks are missing on offense, despite their need for better weapons in the red zone. If he lasts into the middle rounds he could easily be an option — but if he goes as early as Wolfson suggests, it might be a bit rich for Seattle.

A quick note to finish — I’m currently running through the NC State/UCF Bowl tape. I mentioned offensive tackle Rob Crisp as a nice prospect to monitor in October and once again he looked the part. He did a good job handling Clemson’s Vic Beasley earlier in the year. I don’t expect the Seahawks to spend high picks on the offensive line again in 2015, but if they’re looking for depth later on — Crisp could be an option.


  1. Volume 12

    Great article, Rob. You make a couple of good points. His size isn’t prototypical, doesn’t have great speed, he’s no freak of nature. I’ll admit, I’m a big SPARQ guy, finding elite athlete’s is one of the hardest things to do, coaching it up shouldn’t be. But, there are some guys who may not be, but just have… ‘it.’ That toughness, grit, determination. I think Williams has that in spades, a lot like Marsh, Baldwin, KJ, etc. I know, none of them were high picks.

    Watching him, he ‘moves’ a lot like Seattle TE’s, if that makes any sense. Again, your right, his combine will be very big for him, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he turns out a great one. I made the point of comping him to Gronk, and by no means is he, but character wise, the ability to make splash plays is comparable. His potential at only 20, is highly intriguing. To me, he’s only scratching the surface of what he can be. Seattle could bring him along slowly, kind of like P-Rich, and if only adds blocking and some red zone TD’s his first year or so, imagine with this coaching staff, what he could be doing in 2-3? We don’t have many needs this off-season, and Williams could potentially give us just as much as a veteran FA. He also seems like he’d be a great fit in the locker room, being highly competitive and playing with swag or an edge.

    Seattle always seems to ‘swing for the fences’ with their 1st and 2nd round picks, or I should say early round picks, and Williams screams that at me. Adding him with Luke Wilson, and potentially giving them a very physical, competitive, ‘Seahawky’ type attitude, 1-2 punch at TE is very intriguing. If he’s there take him, and as a mid rounder it’s a no brainer.

    • Rob Staton

      Seattle has a trend though in the early rounds of going production + difference making size/speed. Earl Thomas — 8 picks in his final year at Texas and insane athleticism. James Carpenter — enormous size and played left tackle in Mark Ingram’s two big years at Alabama leading the best running game in the country. Bruce Irvin — loads of sacks, the best pass rusher in college football in 2010 and incredible athlete. Paul Richardson — 1300 yards plus loads of TD’s his final year, also an outstanding athlete.

      Williams IMO doesn’t have the production or difference making size/speed to scream Seahawks first rounder. I agree he looks like a Seahawks tight end at times and I think he could easily be a pick they consider. But for me he doesn’t look like the type of player they’d go after early — more likely a mid-round type deal.

      I think whoever they take in R1 next year, if they do indeed pick in R1, will almost certainly have a ton of production, a competitive spirit and excellent athletic qualities.

      • Ho Lee Chit

        Very true! Whether they are selected in the first round or go undrafted, if they are going to make the Seahawks 53 man roster they will be an athletic freak. They have to win their one on one match up with the opponent or we have no place for them. Average skills across the board is not going to get them on the Seahawks. It is better to be superior at one thing. That way the coaches have a chance of putting the player on the field as a situation substitution, at the least. Generally, the one thing the Seahawks have valued above all is speed for the position.

  2. CC

    I was hoping to see what Rory Anderson S CAR looked like during the Independence Bowl, but haven’t seen anything much. I thought he’s a good blocker, which we are always looking for – but had some speed too. Late rounder.

  3. Ho Lee Chit

    Alabama FB Jalston Fowler looks like a player to me. I like the way this kid blocks, runs and catches from the FB position. He reminds me of John L. Williams for those of you that are old enough to remember the Seahawk FB during his hey day. Fowler goes 6-1, 250. He has also played a little TE. I could see him being selected in the middle rounds. Maybe someone can find a more current highlight film.


  4. Forrest

    If he’s available late in the third I wouldn’t mind them getting this guy. Williston has looked better recently, but I have a feeling Miller and McCoy are (essentially) done, if this guy is available in second or third round they might as well get him.

    • Forrest


  5. John_s

    Without the length. I see him more of a Jason Witten / Kyle Rudolph type. He’s going to be the tough reliable receiver in the middle of the field. He’s going to be a chain mover.

    Living in MN I have seen a bunch of his games and he is the ONLY receiving threat on the team with a below avg QB. They lined him up all over the field and was still able to
    Be productive even though teams knew that on passing downs the ball was going his way.

  6. John

    Any thoughts on LA Tech’s DE/LB Houston Bates after his performance the other day? Possible Hawk
    LEO candidate in later rounds?

    • Rob Staton

      Not a player I’ve watched but I’ll take a look John.

  7. bigDhawk

    We already have one Maxxi on the team. Seriously though, who knows. He looks like he type of player Baltimore would draft – solid consensus draft-nik pick – maybe SF. I don’t see Miller going anywhere and I haven’t closed the book on McCoy yet so unless Maxxi really blows some stuff up he would probably be little more than competition fodder here. Is he a ST standout? If so that would definitely help tilt the field in his favor.

  8. Donovan

    If we agree that Seattle will be looking to acquire a “bigger” target for RW and that there aren’t many ready-made players available in the upcoming draft, then what are everyone’s thoughts on:

    * Josh Gordon for Sea. 1st RD pick — Gordon just got suspended by the Browns for the finale for violating team rules. Carries a lot of risk with 2 strikes, but immense talent.

    * Larry Fitzgerald — No way Arizona keeps him at $20 M+, meaning either he’ll restructure his deal to stay with them or he’ll be a cap casualty and free to sign with any team.

    • Ted

      Josh Gordon is a fantastic talent, but he’s also 1 strike away from a year-long suspension. Add in the fact that he continues to do immature things (suspension due to violation of team rules) and there’s no way he’s worth a 1st rounder anymore. I doubt anyone would go higher than a 3rd for him at the moment. I’d like his talent on this team, but I’m a little gunshy about trading for WRs after the Deion Branch and Percy Harvin debacles.

      Fitz is a stud, but not sure we could get him at a reasonable price.

      • Hay stacker509

        I’m with you Ted, no more first round pick trades for wrs! I’d go with 2 3rds or 3rd and 4th for Gordon. But nothing more. The headache isn’t worth it

    • Ho Lee Chit

      Forget about Gordon. With his drug history Carroll is not going there. He was suspended for a year and barely lasted a month before Cleveland suspended him again. We don’t need that in our locker room.

      As for your assertion that we all agree we need a big WR, we don’t. The Hawks have had many opportunities to draft a guy who is tall. Heck they have Chris Matthews on their roster now and he is 6-5 but does not play. What they look for is the ability to separate from the defender and frequently these tall guys cannot get it done. They need two steps of separation before Wilson will throw it up. The faster WR’s like Richardson have a better chance on both the Go route and the shorter stuff. They also expect the WR to catch it when they are targeted. Most of the passes are short and intermediate routes. The big guys cannot change direction well enough to be effective in the short passing game and many drop too many catch-able balls. We are not going to throw it up into coverage and hope our WR can out jump the DB. That is not in the Seahawk DNA. The TE’s can be utilized in the red zone.

      • Alaska Norm

        What the Seahawks are missing with out a big target is the ability to be open even when covered. RW needs a guy he trusts will make the play over a DB. You are right that RW will not pull the trigger without clear separation but that’s also been the cause of unnecessary sacks and hits. In this day of no contact, a big reciever also will draw holding and contact calls on the jump balls. I don’t think the Seahawks have intentionally passed up on big reciever it’s just that they have not reached.

        • Ho Lee Chit

          I think height is the last criteria. The ability to change direction, gain separation and catch the ball are more important. Wilson holds the ball longer than any QB in the league (average 3.14 seconds). He is being careful with the ball, as he should. If he waits for a long strider to get open 30 yards down field he has missed his chance with all of the other WR’s. Passing to Baldwin after he has faked Cromartie out of his sox is just as effective as going deep to a tall WR. Wilson, also does not throw high in the middle of the field. He is good about keeping the ball low where it does not go off the WR’s hands. This is another reason the tall WR is less valuable. Wilson is not going to throw it up when everyone is covered. He will run with it. We just need to get the ball out quicker so that he does not take so many sacks.

          • Volume 12

            This is just my opinion, but I agree with both of you guys actually and here’s why. They do need a target who can go and ‘get’ the ball. Whether that be a Golden Tate type guy or a Sidney Rice type. Seattle isn’t going to reach on a big WR just for the sake of having a big WR on the roster. I always remember PC saying he liked having a ‘basketball starting 5’ as his WR corps. So if Baldwin is the PG, P-Rich the SG, Kearse the SF, Norwood the PF, who’s our C?

            Also agree that a big TE is much more effective for RW it seems. Some on this blog, have this misconception that if Seattle drafts a big WR that it will change our entire offense, or he’ll be the ‘go to guy.’ Why? They would just be adding one more guy to spread the ball around to. Seattle is missing a WR like this, but again I’m not sure it’s an immediate need. I think not having FB Derrick Coleman is overlooked and affects our play calling in the red zone.

            Someone on this blog, can’t remember who, may have been Rob, made the point that if the league trend is to copy Seattle’s blueprint of having big, LONG CB’s to combat the day and age of passing all the time, then is Seattle’s answer to combat that with smaller and quicker WR’s? We’ve all seen our CB’s struggle with Beckham, Hilton, etc. Yes, bigger WR’s are often horrible route runners, demand the ball, one dimensional, and therefore easy to negate or take out of a game plan. There’s nothing wrong with WR’s who are 6’2, 215 lbs. Alot of the best WR’S in the league have that body type.

            Since we’re talking about smaller WR’s, what do you guys think of a couple names as in Duke WR Jamison Crowder? He’s pretty small, but he just makes plays, has had back to back productive years, is so quick, sure handed, and runs good routes. Not sure if he’s a returner as well. Also what about Miami,Fla. WR Phillip Dorsett? This kid had a great year, is freakishly fast at a reported 4.3 40, makes splash plays, and would instantly upgrade our KR/PR game. Really wish South Carolina WR Pharaoh Cooper was draft eligible. IMO he’s Harvin esque skill wise. Not 1st founders by any means, although if WR Cooper was eligible I’m pretty sure he’d be in the discussion as one.

            • Ho Lee Chit

              I think you are right on the money Volume 12. The way I look at it is: If Wilson is going to throw the jump ball pass to a WR like Dez Bryant rather than run, then he has to have confidence the kid will make the catch. This means the WR is going to have to practice this play every week against Richard Sherman to build Russell’s confidence. If Sherm intercepts one out of ten, that ain’t good enough to build confidence in RW. Crabtree and Kapernick found out how that turns out. Better to pull it down and run for a first down.

              • Volume 12

                Yeah, gaining separation, route running, and run blocking seem to be paramount in a WR if PC/JS are going to draft one, regardless of size.

            • Ho Lee Chit

              Crowder, Dorsett, Yep! Guys with that ‘See Ya’ speed who can make the roster as a KR/PR guy. Percy Harvin was that way. Tyler Lockett is another one we should be looking at. These guys are all available in the middle rounds.

              • Volume 12

                Completely forgot about K-St WR Tyler Lockett. Don’t know how. He’s very intriguing as well, but at only 175 some odd lbs. could he handle the beating of being an NFL return guy? And if he added weight, would it affect his speed and shiftiness?

                • Ho Lee Chit

                  Tyler Lockett is about the same size as Tavon Austin.

  9. Hay stacker509

    Does anyone know if the cowboys win agonist the redskins and we win against the rams does that mean cowboys get the #1 seed, home field and first round bye?

    • Ho Lee Chit

      No. We get home field if we win.

    • John_s

      No the winner of GB / Det will also be 12-4 meaning that there would be a 3way tie and we would win the tiebreaker

      • John_s

        Only exception would be if GB/Det ties then it would only be Dal and Sea with 12-4 records then Dal would win due to head to head

  10. Volume 12

    Since quite a few people on this blog want a DT early, although I’m with Rob and think Seattle is fine taking those types in the mid to late rounds of the draft. There’s an old scouting adage that says ‘Championship teams don’t draft pure run stuffers before the 3rd round.’ Anyways here’s a sleeper to keep an eye on. Although I’m not sure how much longer he will be after all-star games and the combine. He’s very ‘Seahawky.’

    Arizona St DT Marcus Hardison. He’s 6’4, 290, runs a 4.7 40!, former JUCO guy, had 40+ tackles, 14.5 TFL, 10 QB sacks (good for 17th or 20th nationally), 3 PBU, 1 INT, 1 TD, has a fantastic first step(which is really what stands out to me), plays all up and down the line, giving him great versatility. He’s fiery and passionate as well. Yesterday’s bowl game against Duke this kid was constantly in the backfield, impacted numerous snaps, and gave DUKE OG Laken Tomlinson, who’s a rumored 3rd rd. guy himself, all he could handle. He also dominated a pretty good Notre Dame OL earlier in the year.

    He’s got a pretty interesting story as well. He was a former QB in High School, grew out of the position, switched to DL and had his choice of going pretty much were he wanted. His grades weren’t good enough so he went the JUCO route and again had his choice between UW, Auburn, K-St, W. Virginia, and a couple others. He grew up with just him and his mom, first thing he does when Arizona St is on the road he goes to the local WalMart’s to get a ‘feel’ for what he’ll be up against. Says he loves competition and craves challenges, is reportedly extremely mature, and his coaches just rave about him.

    I think he’d be a phenomenal pick in the late 3rd or even better in the 4th. To me he plays the 5-tech and sets the edge like Big Red with Bennett’s first step quickness and versatility. Seattle could move him inside to 3-tech on passing downs or even 1-tech alongside DT Jordan Hill. Other than a LEO, run stuffing DT, Seattle absolutely need a guy with Harrison’s versatility who can play anywhere on the line. They seem to be looking for that type with the signing of Jason Jones a couple of years ago, to the drafting of Greg Scruggs (not high on him), the interest in Datone Jones, the want and then disappointment of losing out on Dominique Easley, then losing out on Henry Melton in FA, to the recent signing of DL David King. See where I’m going with this? He’d be a great developmental pick with high upside and very effective in a rotation.

  11. Volume 12

    Damn it! Meant Seattle need’s a guy with *Hardison’s versatility.

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