The Mike Williams Reclamation Project 2011

A little caveat before you read this article:  I'm a dreamer when it comes to the Hawks.  When they invited Reggie Williams and Mike Williams  to camp last year I had delusions of the Hawks' grandeur, picturing Mike and Reggie coming back to dominate the league and provide Carroll with his prototypical big, jump ball in the endzone type receivers.  Well, obviously Reggie didn't pan out.  But you know what?  Mike Williams did. One year later, 2nd in voting for NFL comeback player of the year after a solid "rookie" campaign.  During the offseason, there's a lot of time to sit there and try and come up with who Carroll and Schneider will dig up this year, and that is basically what this article amounts to.  I'm not an idiot (I hope); I know that the vast majority of players that wash out of the league do so for a reason and coaches and front office guys are typically good at what they do and at talent evaluation.  That being said, some guys slip through the cracks for one reason or another.  So in other words, take everything that follows with a grain of salt, but try and enjoy the idea of what potential it could have.

He's a former USC Legend. He's a tall, sure handed, athletic WR. He was selected early in the draft but ultimately never met the expectations of the team that drafted him so ultimately he was released. Pete Carroll though, saw something in him and invited him to tryout for his Seahawks team. Am I talking about Mike Williams? Nope.  I'm talking about FA WR Dwanye Jarrett.

Jarrett, up until last August coming into Panther's training camp, was competing to be the teams' number two receiver behind Pro Bowler Steve Smith. He had made big strides during the offseason and was poised to finally live up to his potential as a 2nd round draft choice for the Panthers.  That is, until he got his second DUI in three years and was released. Jarrett, who was a two time first team All American and had a career 219 catches and school record 41 TDs in three seasons at USC, never found that success in the pros, and has ultimately washed out.

He stayed on his couch most of last year until he was given a call by Pete Carroll and came in for a tryout in late November when the Hawks were experiencing injuries at receiver (now-retired Bobby Engram was invited too). He wasn't signed at that time, but I still find myself wondering if Pete told him to get his crap together, get in shape, lift hard, and be ready for next year's camp.

I'm not sure if it was his cockiness, lack if physicality, or hands that eventually led him to be dropped, but if it was simply his immaturity and trouble with the law (2 DUIs) that took it's toll, I can see a case for the Hawks giving this guy another tryout this offseason. Jarrett's specialty in college was winning jump balls and possessing good body control for a WR of his size. Why did he fail so badly?  Some reasons (or excuses) as to why he may have underperformed are as follows: one, he was a young receiver in a run-first offense with a inconsistent quarterback. Two, he was typically the 3rd or 4th option in that offense, so opportunities don't come often, and three, he had questionable work ethic, did not study the playbook enough and/or didn't get along with the coaching staff.

I'm of course ignoring the idea that maybe he just can't play at the NFL level, but then that would end this post rather quickly. I'm going to assume - since it's been stated by several reporters close to the Panthers and many fans fuming in forums that he shows solid on-field skills and practices well and was showing a lot of promise as recently as this last preseason -  that his lack of success stemmed from one or all of the above mentioned excuses.

And I'll take it on from there:
By most accounts, analysts stated that Jarrett would have served himself better by staying in school another year to refine his skills and gain maturity. He also put in a sub-par 40 yard dash time (4.62) that hurt his draft stock (originally he was projected as a first rounder, ended up 2nd round). 

Here is how CBSSports described his skills coming into the 2007 draft:
Has long arms and legs with a frame that can carry at least another 10 pounds of bulk … Plays with only adequate quickness, but shows very good ball concentration and aggressiveness going after the ball … Has very good timing and leaping ability to get to the ball at its high point … Needs to add more bulk and upper body power to run through the press, but once he gets into his route, he is able to build his acceleration nicely … Has quick hands and the ability to uncover working underneath …

Very consistent extending for the ball and builds to top acceleration nicely if he is able to beat the press … Has only adequate timed speed, but does a fine job of tracking the ball in flight and has outstanding ball adjustment skills … Uses his tall frame to create mismatches vs. the smaller defenders competing for the jump balls and is never affected by traffic in his quest to get under the pass …

Not the fastest you will find on linear routes, but shows good cutting agility to separate after the catch … It is rare to see Jarrett glide out of his breaks like most bigger receivers tend to do … With Jarrett's low pad level and ability to open his hips, he is very effective at getting in and out of his breaks without having to throttle down … Does a good job going deep and is alert to pocket pressure, making a conscious effort to come back for the ball. Quite effective at keeping his feet in bounds along the sidelines …

Excels at making the tough catch inside the red zone, especially on corner and fade routes … Might not be able to overpower a defender going through the seams, but he has the flexibility to turn to the off-target balls and catch outside his frame … Finds the path of the ball quickly to settle underneath it, compensating for a lack of timed speed … The thing you see on film is his ability to reach and snatch the ball over a defender's head … Has only adequate speed and acceleration, but he has the loose hips to avoid tackles and maintain balance through his running stride …

Good at taking a shallow crossing pass into big yardage when he makes a conscious effort to escape rather than try to run over the defender … Uses his hands well to shade, mirror and control edge rushers on contact and won't hesitate to get physical … Good position blocker in attempts to seal off and takes good angles to deliver a solid cut block vs. second level defenders.

Lacks the timed speed to get down field in a hurry, but has the body control and ability to catch outside his frame to adjust and compete for the ball in flight … Has adequate ability to retain plays, but does need several reps … Alert to coverages, but will get a little sloppy and run right into spots at times …

Consistently works back to the ball and while he can adjust on the move, he is not going to be the type who can handle multiple position assignments … Was almost ruled ineligible in June for violating NCAA rules by not paying enough rent for the apartment he shared with former Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart … There is a lot of the brash Keyshawn Johnson and the flippant Mike Williams attitude in this kid …

Plays hard until the whistle, but will look lackadaisical at times and goes through the motions in practice and needs some structure there … While he will compete for the ball in a crowd, he will struggle vs. strong press coverage and gets frustrated at times when he can't separate from the speedier cornerbacks … Lacks the overall strength to defeat a strong jam and doesn't demonstrate the blazing speed or suddenness getting into his routes … Looks sluggish with his burst off the snap and relies more on his size mismatches than speed to get under the ball … A long strider rather than a receiver who takes short, quick steps … When he tries to lower his shoulder to run over a defensive back, that is when he gets into trouble, as he doesn't have the brute strength to break tackles.

Compares To:
KEYSHAWN JOHNSON-Carolina … While his work ethic and lack of speed remind some of Detroit's Mike Williams, Jarrett's ability on fade and corner routes and timing on his leaps for the jump ball rival that of another former USC receiver. Jarrett is much better at keeping his feet in bounds than Johnson, and he has some of the more natural hands you will find out there. However, he needs to show that he is maturing off the field and must improve his overall strength and hand usage, as he will struggle vs. physical press coverage.
Apart from all the accolades of how great he is in the red-zone and going up for jump balls, the things that jump out to me in this report are the questions on his lack of maturity and work ethic. They compare him to Mike Williams - obviously because they're both tall, successful USC WRs, but also because they both had through-the-roof potential and ceiling, but lack(ed) the ethic and maturity to follow through with that talent. Well, we've all seen what Mike Williams was able to do with his career with a shot from Pete Carroll.

I am not in the Hawks' front office and I wasn't able to see the workout that he put in last November. They probably have no intention of giving him a shot at competing for a spot, but I just take a look at a guy that was able to score 41 TDs in 3 years playing in the Pete Carroll system, and I have to wonder if Carroll can do for Jarrett what he did for Williams. With a year at home, thinking about his future, perhaps Jarrett has matured and is ready to do what's necessary to play at the NFL level. Right before he was cut by the Panthers, he was quoted as saying:
I don’t think I understood what it was going to take. It’s not that I didn’t want to work hard. I just didn’t understand what it took in the NFL – I really didn’t get it. Things were happening so fast and I didn’t have down the mental part of it. It robbed my aggressiveness.
He's in the mold of a prototypical possession style receiver, and given some time, could develop into a quality wideout. He does possess the 'unteachables' - body control for a player his size, excellent timing on jump balls, innate ability to keep his feet inbounds, and soft hands to catch difficult passes. His upside is what I am intrigued about, not his prior failures. Sure, there are good reasons he was dropped out of the NFL - but that doesn't mean he doesn't have potential, if put in the right system. Quite often, it takes wide receivers several years to transfer their skills to the NFL level, and perhaps Jarrett is a classic case of that.

When I take a look at the Hawks' receiving corps, I see a glaring lack of possession style receivers outside of Mike Williams. Obomanu is not that type of player. Ruvell Martin is a decent player, but is 28, lacks the upside, and is probably very near his ceiling in terms of his potential. Outside of that, the Hawks have Deon Bulter (injury a question mark), Golden Tate (youth and maturity a question mark), and Isaiah Stanbeck (injury a question mark). Stokley hasn't been re-signed.

Where do they turn if (when) Mike Williams gets hurt again this year and is forced to miss games? We saw how once he went down, the Seahawks' offense sputtered.  Perhaps having a player like Jarrett to play that role could give the Hawks some much needed depth and give him the time to develop as an NFL player.  Is there less risk taking a green WR in the late rounds of the draft?

According to this article by Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, Jarrett came into camp last preseason a changed player, seemingly ready to make the jump to the next level but was derailed immediately by his DUI. While that DUI is a concern, I don't believe it's reason enough to completely write off a 25 year old player with the skillset Jarrett possesses.  WR may not be the position of greatest need for the Hawks but why not take a flier on a guy like Jarrett?  He'd come cheap, could provide depth at the position, and the potential upside could be Mike Williams 2.0. If he makes the team, and is given a roster spot, it would likely come at the expense of someone like Ruvell Martin or Isaiah Stanback, both borderline practice squad players.  There's a chance Deon Bulter will start the year on the PUP list, so maybe give Jarrett six weeks to work it out.  Who knows, it's a long shot, but dream big.

If it happens, Dwayne Jarrett could finally be glad to be constantly compared with Mike Williams, but only for resurrecting his career, not derailing it.

Anyway, check out some Jarrett 'highlights,' mostly coming from week 17 of 2009 against the eventual champion New Orleans Saints.

1 comment:

  1. Another well written post! I would think he fits the Carrol model of "competition" and would be welcomed to camp. He carries less baggage than Reggie Williams did this same time last year! I would think the Hawks wouldn't tip their hand to this idea and would keep it on the down low.... It would be interesting to see if he has been working out in the offseason with a dedicated sport specific regimen like Mike Williams did prior to turning out for his early camp invitation.