Entering the 2015 season, former Auburn wide receiver D’haquille “Duke” Williams was projected to be one of the first wideouts taken in the 2016 NFL Draft.
One of those projections came from ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr., who before the season ranked Williams as the No. 1 senior receiver prospect, but thinks Williams is fortunate to have a combine invite after he was dismissed from the Tigers last season.
“The fact that he’s there and some of the good receivers aren’t is the reason you’ve got to take advantage of it,” Kiper said on a conference call Monday, according to the Montgomery Advertiser’s Duane Rankin. “You’ve got to be thankful you’re there, No. 1, because like I said, some pretty good receivers aren’t invited that had a much better year than he did and a much better finish to his career than he did. So be thankful you’re there and maximize it.”
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn removed Williams in early October after he was involved in an altercation inside a local bar after the team’s victory over San Jose State. It was the third disciplinary incident for the 6-foot-5 receiver and his draft stock has plummeted due to the off-field concerns.
Still, according to Kiper , NFL teams are interested in Williams’ potential after he led Auburn in receiving during the 2014 season with 45 catches for 730 yards and five touchdowns.
“He showed he could be a No. 1 guy,” Kiper said. “If you look at tape from those games, you would (have) thought he could have been a second-round pick. If you’re thinking fourth or fifth round now, if you reconcile the other stuff and you’re OK with it, then fourth or fifth round would be very possible.”
Williams apologized for the ending to his Auburn career following his dismissal. Now, he has a chance to redeem his football career in the NFL.
“He’s had plenty of time to get ready for (the combine) and show the kind of talent you showcased two years ago at Auburn,” Kiper said.