WR Williams could be second-round target

Each week leading up to April’s NFL Draft, New England native Steve Muench of ESPN’s Scouts Inc., will identify a player he thinks could be a good fit for the Patriots. This week, it’s Southern California wide receiver Damian Williams:

“Although Williams is an underclassman, coming out a year early, it doesn’t show on the field. He’s one of the most polished receivers in this class. While he is not the most explosive or strong receiver, he knows how to get open. He does an excellent job setting up his breaks and tempo-ing his routes, as he doesn’t give anything away to corners. He can run every route and knows how to separate from coverage even though he’s not an elite athlete, which is keeping him from being in the first-round category.

“Some fans in Boston might remember him with 12 receptions for 189 yards against BC in the Emerald Bowl. In addition, he can return punts and had two returned for touchdowns last year. I don’t think he’ll be as productive as a return man in the NFL, but he could be more than adequate. Specific to the Patriots, he could be an option with Wes Welker recovering.

“When I look at the Patriots, he is the perfect fit for what they need. You have Randy Moss on one side, stretching the field. Then Julian Edelman will do his best to fill in for Wes Welker in the slot . Williams, who is 6-0, 197 pounds, could line up opposite Moss. He’s not an undersized slot receiver, but I also wouldn’t say he’s a consistent vertical threat in the mold of a Randy Moss or San Diego's Vincent Jackson. He's a crisp short-to-intermediate route runner who can take advantage of single-coverage matchups and is big enough to hold up on the outside.

“I think he’s a Patriots type of player – a hard worker who would come in and immediately get to work learning the system, and someone who would probably love playing with a quarterback like Tom Brady. They have a couple of picks in the middle of the second round and there’s a good chance he’ll be there.

“He’s an excellent football player who might not have as high a ceiling as some of the other receivers, not the same type of potential, but I think he could be an excellent player over the long haul in the NFL.”