With a definite need to assemble offensive weapons around rookie quarterback Jared Goff, the Rams double downed at wide receiver and tight end in last week’s draft.
On Tuesday they took a different route in their quest to identify playmakers, and it landed them one of the most talented wide receivers in this year’s draft class.
Albeit one who went undrafted and arrives with a bit of baggage.
The Rams have signed former Auburn wide receiver Duke Williams to a free agent contract after he worked out for the club recently. Williams, a 6-foot-2, 215 pounder enjoyed a productive junior year for the Tigers in 2014, catching 45 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns. At the time, ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper rated Williams as the top wide receiver in the 2016 draft class.
But his 2015 season was cut short after a series of off-field incidents resulted in Auburn kicking him off the team in October. Williams caught just 12 passes last year before being banished from the team after a series of suspensions, team violations and getting into a bar-room brawl.
After going undrafted last week, Williams was immediately invited by the Rams to try out.
They obviously liked what they saw.
With Williams in the fold, he joins recent wide receiver draftees Pharoh Cooper and Michael Thomas on a roster that also includes veterans Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt and Brian Quick.
Williams seemed contrite when explaining, his troubles at Auburn at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
“I was late to practice many times. Once I got in the doghouse, it was hard for me to get out. I was already in the doghouse, so everything I did, it was being watched. I just had to grow. And I didn’t grow,” Williams said. “So now I’m working to be a man. I put myself in counseling to really find myself as a person, to address the issue before it even happens again.”
Williams also said he was seeking counseling.
“You know, like attitude, the whole thing, everything. Just overall as a person,” he said. “I want to be able to address it right now to where nobody has to tell me what to do anymore.”
Williams left little doubt he’d be considered a top pick without the baggage.
“If I didn’t get in any trouble, I know I’m a legit first-round pick,” he said. “But God got other plans. I’m a first-round pick no matter what.”
The Rams are giving him a chance to prove it.