Originally Posted by Bob McManaman
Cardinals undrafted receiver Stephen Williams could turn into a steal
How bad did NFL scouts miss the boat on rookie wide receiver Stephen Williams?
So bad that, according to former Cardinals linebacker/defensive end Bertrand Berry, every NFL team should have to forfeit a draft pick next year because of their stupidity.
"It's insane. It's an absolute crime," Berry said this week during a radio interview on KDUS-AM (1060).
Williams started 40 games for the University of Toledo and left as the school's all-time leader in receptions (229) and receiving yards (3,102). But he went untouched in this year's NFL draft.
The Cardinals had him rated as a potential third-round pick, but they didn't draft him, either. Instead, they were the one team that reached out and offered him a free-agent contract with a chance to make the team.
And it appears he has done that.
The 6-foot-5 Williams has been the biggest feel-good story of training camp and the preseason for the Cardinals. He has caught nearly every ball thrown his way, made some amazing plays in traffic and likely cemented himself on the 53-man roster with his performance Saturday against the Chicago Bears.
In that game, playing in a starting role because of injuries to Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet, he caught five passes for 79 yards and turned an underneath slant into a 27-yard touchdown.
"It was a good game," Williams said. "I wanted more progress and to show more of my skills and get more trust with the first-team offense, so it was a very good feeling.
"Every week it seems like my confidence gets higher and higher. I'm trying to put myself in front of my teammates and my coaches and let them know I can play in this league."
Mission accomplished, according to Fitzgerald, who said Williams eventually might replace him as the Cardinals' No. 1 wideout.
"That's a good thing to hear coming from a guy like that," Williams said. "I'm learning from him every day, how to pick his brain and run routes like him and the different techniques he uses to get open.
"Hey, I'm learning from the best, so hopefully that can make me the best, too. When you leave a legacy, you want the guy behind you to be better than you, and I think that's what Larry's trying to teach me."
Quarterback Derek Anderson said he never has seen a rookie free-agent receiver with the skill set of Williams - and Anderson played with a do-everything, undrafted receiver in Josh Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns.
"Josh was one of those guys," Anderson said. "He's not a great receiver, but he's a great athlete and probably one of the best football players I've ever been around."
Cardinals free safety Kerry Rhodes said: "I have no idea how this kid didn't get drafted, but he's a beast. Whether he's going up against the third team, the second team or the first team, he's a beast."
Williams isn't sure why he didn't get drafted, either, but said it might have been a blessing now that it appears he has found a home in Arizona.
"Everything happens for a reason," he said. "I'm at a loss as to why it went the way it did, but I know I had a clean slate and I didn't do anything wrong. I guess I just had to prove myself to the right people."