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Posted on Tue, Apr. 19, 2005
Carter endorses Williams as a pro
BY DON SEEHOLZER
As someone who played four seasons with Randy Moss, Cris Carter is well aware of what the Vikings gave up in their March 2 trade with Oakland, and he has firsthand knowledge of Mike Williams' pro potential.
That makes Carter doubly qualified to discuss what the Vikings could do with the No. 7 selection in Saturday's NFL draft. Just don't ask him if Williams is the right receiver to fill Moss' shoes.
"I don't look at it as the guy coming after Randy," Carter said. "I don't think that's fair because athletes are totally different. I think Michael would be a very, very good pick with that seventh pick. I believe he's going to be a great pro."
Carter should know.
Last fall might have been an involuntary vacation for Williams, who tried and failed to turn pro after two college seasons, but it wasn't a total loss.
The former University of Southern California wide receiver spent part of his year away from football working out with Carter in Boca Raton, Fla., and considers himself to be ahead of the game because of it.
"I learned a lot of things from Cris as far as my route running and just my approach to the game," Williams said at February's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. "With this year off, the biggest thing to my advantage was I spent the last few months making the transition to the next level a lot easier."
Not all the lessons had to do with football.
Denied entry to the NFL by a U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Williams was barred from returning to USC by the NCAA because he had hired an agent.
After a 1-2 punch like that, Carter figured the kid's ego could use a boost.
"The No. 1 thing that I was trying to get him to do was realize that his unfortunate situation wouldn't hurt his ability to play in the NFL," Carter said. "That he's an NFL-caliber player and that would not change because he did not play last season. That emotionally and mentally he had not made a terrible mistake. That was the first thing."
From a football standpoint, Williams' most important lesson was learning the differences between the college and pro games and the adjustments he would have to make to take his game to the next level.
"I think we did some things that a lot of people aren't doing as far as looking at his routes and changing them to pro-type routes," Carter said. "And then also looking at NFL film. I don't think the other receivers are looking at pro film, looking at defenses, looking at cornerbacks and looking at what he's going to go against. That's something he has been exposed to so the learning curve won't be as steep."
Williams has credited the experience with making him a smarter player than he was a year ago, if not necessarily a better one.
"There's really no substitute for playing games," Carter said. "I wouldn't go so far as to say he's a better player. That's a stretch right there. From an information standpoint, he has a lot more information."
Carter might have done his job a little too well for the Vikings, who have no assurances that Williams still will be available with the seventh selection.
Chicago, at No. 4, and No. 6 Tennessee are candidates to snag Williams, whose stock obviously hasn't been hurt too badly by his year off or relatively ordinary 4.55-second speed in the 40-yard dash.
"How fast can a guy 6-4, 230 be?" Carter said. "He definitely has more in common with me than he does with Randy. There's not a receiver that I've ever worked with that I can compare to Randy."
Maybe not, but Williams' 30 touchdowns in two seasons at USC are Moss-like numbers and the biggest reason he won't have to wait long to hear his name called on draft day.
"I think he's going to be a great player," Carter said. "I think people will be surprised at the kind of person he is. He's really a hard worker. He takes his training very seriously and wants to be very good. A lot of people say they want to be good, but they don't do all the things that would indicate they want to be good. Michael has shown me not only with what he has said but what he has done that he wants to be great