Ex-Trojan runs 4.59, 4.61 40s; still likely first-rounder

Updated: February 27, 2005, 7:13 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Southern California wide receiver Mike Williams, the other orphan from the 2004 draft, lost the farm here Sunday.

Mike Williams
AP Photo/John HarrellWilliams had "bet the farm" he'd run under 4.5 seconds in the 40. After Sunday, he likely won't place many more bets.
Williams, who on Friday said he was "going to bet the farm" that he would run under 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash drill that is a key part of the standard workout at the predraft combine sessions, better get ready to turn over the deed to the barn.

On a day when many lesser-known receivers turned in scintillating times, Williams was unofficially clocked at 4.59 and 4.61 seconds in his two attempts. Those times were not significantly better than the 4.6-second 40 time he turnd in last spring, when it appeared he would be cleared to enter the 2004 draft.

An appeals court, of course, subsequently kept Williams and Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett from essentially re-writing the NFL's draft eligibility rules. Williams sought to have his eligibility restored, but the NCAA denied his request and he sat out the entire 2004 campaign.

While his performance wasn't nearly as disastrous as Clarett's abysmal Saturday session, in which the tailback was timed at 4.72 and 4.82, it was still disappointing for Williams.

"No excuses," he said. "I felt good and should have done better. I've just got to work harder, shave off some time, and impress people with my next shot."

Williams is scheduled to hold a personal workout for scouts in Tampa, his hometown, on March 10.

Some scouts suspect, though, that Williams will never run markedly faster times because he is such a big receiver. At 6-feet-4½ and 228 pounds, Williams presents a huge target, has good hands, is aggressive in going after the ball, and is tough coming across the middle on pass routes.

There are a few teams that believe Williams will be most effective in the NFL in an H-back role, but the likelihood is that he will be chosen as a wide receiver, and utilized at that position. Even with Sunday's poor 40 times, Williams is almost certain to be chosen in the first round, probably about the middle of the stanza.

"You know more about what you're getting with him [than with Clarett]," Bills coach Mike Mularkey said. "He hasn't been away from the game nearly as long, and he's got really good tools. I don't think the concerns are the same."

Despite the pedestrian times for Williams, the wide receiver workouts reinforced the notion that the position will once again be a deep one in the draft. Braylon Edwards of Michigan did not run the 40 but there were plenty of quick times as wideouts jostled for better draft positions.

Complete results were not yet available, but at least 10 wide receivers ran under 4.5 and at least seven of them were under 4.45. Jerome Mathis of Hampton turned in what was believed to be the fastest time, at 4.32, and Courtney Roby of Indiana (4.36) and Troy Williamson of South Carolina (4.38) also broke the 4.4-second barrier.

Williamson has clearly established himself as a wide receiver to watch. Even before the combine, some scouts had him rated ahead of Southern California's Williams, and he did nothing this weekend to change that assessment.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.

ALSO SEE