As I sat and thought about an NFL Draft related article I could write on this snowed in day, I figured with the theme of the blog I could write about NFL prospects coming out of the Empire State. This proved to be quite the issue, considering New York is better known for its basketball prospects. Another factor is that there are only two FBS schools in New York, and neither is particularly good: Buffalo and Syracuse are simply stuck in rebuilding mode. The Orange of Syracuse finished a dismal 4-8, and the Bulls didn’t fare much better at 5-7. Both schools have a few players who will be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft, but one wide receiver from Syracuse will certainly be the wild card and is by far the most interesting prospect from these two schools: Mike Williams..

Mike Williams was a physical specimen on the field at Syracuse. Listed at 6’2, 205 pounds, he was big enough to avoid the jam at the line in college. The fourth-year junior was well on pace to rewrite the Syracuse receiving records, held by a wide receiver you may have heard of named Marvin Harrison. His 4.55 speed is by all means not elite, but good enough to make him a productive NFL receiver.

With what sounds like a solid overall build for a wide receiver comes the personal and off-field issues that have plagued Williams’ career with Syracuse. After a monster 2007 season when he posted 60 catches, 837 yards, and 10 touchdowns, he missed all of 2008 after violating Syracuse’s “Academic Integrity Policy” and being forced to transfer to Onondaga Community College to pull up his grades and become eligible again. In 2009, Williams came back and continued the successes that came in 2007: through the first seven games he hauled in 49 catches, 746 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Then, on November 2nd he casually strolled into head coach Doug Marrone’s office and promptly announced that he quit the team, just days after learning he would be a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, which names the best wide receiver in college football.

From an NFL Draft standpoint, after reading paragraph 2, you’d imagine teams are wondering where they would have to trade up to get the services of the Buffalo, NY native. However, after reading on, we see that there are major character issues here, like many other NFL wide outs. By quitting his team just five games early, Williams undoubtedly cost himself hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in contract money. Going into the offseason, he should have been in the discussion of top FBS receivers, not one if you can even bother to waste a fourth or fifth round draft pick on.

Ironically, I have a feeling that his NFL career will begin somewhere very close to where his college one began: Buffalo. Buffalo will be in desperate need of a receiver as Terrell Owens already has one foot out the door. The one issue that I have with him going to Buffalo is the new head coach, Chan Gailey. If the Bills do draft him, Gailey will need to do everything humanly possible to keep Williams on the right path, which so far hasn’t happened yet in his life.

Prediction? Mike Williams will be a third round draft pick, probably by a team close to home in the New York area.