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When will WR prospect Jameson Williams be able to play?

Alabama Jameson Williams should still come off the board early despite suffering an ACL tear in January.

Syndication: Online Athens Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

One of the premier wide receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft, Alabama’s Jameson Williams offers plenty of enticing traits for prospective teams. His speed, considered almost without peer among the incoming rookies, immediately stands out from his game film. Williams also has decent length (6-foot-2) that allows him to win in ways other than going over the top of defenders. If healthy, he would likely come off the board first among wideouts.

Injury details

During January’s national title game, Williams tore his left ACL early in the second quarter. The injury occurred just one game after teammate and fellow starting wideout John Metchie suffered the same injury in the semifinal. With both of their top receivers sidelined, the Crimson Tide struggled to keep up with the Georgia Bulldogs who went on to win 33-18.

Timetable for return

Fortunately for Williams, the incident only involved his ACL, leaving the rest of the knee intact. NFL scouts, coaches, and cameras caught Williams doing work on the side.

But while impressive, Williams doesn’t appear likely to return to full contact in the near future. The recovery timetable for ACL tears would stretch until the start of the 2022 regular season, but that doesn’t mean the Alabama receiver will hit the field at that time. With no previous NFL on-field work under his belt, Williams will probably require additional weeks and maybe months before appearing in a game. And all of that assumes he doesn’t suffer a setback during his rehabilitation process.

Will it impact draft slot?

Despite appearing likely to miss a significant chunk of his rookie season, Williams could still go first among wide receivers. The NFL prizes speed at the position and no other rookie wideout offers his combination of field-stretching ability and all-around dominance. Even if other pass catchers come off the board first, don’t expect Williams to last past the middle of Day 1.