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Will Maxx Williams be in for an expanded role on the offense this season?

With the lack of urgency to add a tight end, Williams could be tasked to be more than just a quality blocker in 2021

Philadelphia Eagles v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals went into the main free agency period and the draft with a supposed need at tight end after Dan Arnold signed with the Carolina Panthers this offseason but came out with none.

They added N.C. State’s Cary Angeline and Cincinnati’s Bruno Labelle as undrafted free agents. The Cardinals also added Austrian tight end Bernhard Seikovits from the International Player Pathway program.

It is too soon to think they will have a role on the offense when no one knows if they will even make the final roster.

Many have linked the Cardinals to Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz, who is expected to be a June-1st release or a potential trade candidate. Until Ertz, another trade candidate, or a veteran free agent agree to terms with the Cardinals, this organization will have to make do with what they currently have.

As of this moment, Maxx Williams and Darrell Daniels are the only veteran tight ends on the roster with NFL experience. Ian Bunting has been a practice squad player throughout his young career.

Los Angeles Chargers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If the Cardinals choose not to add any other veteran to their tight end room, Maxx Williams could be in for an expanded role in the upcoming season.

Williams was a free agent add by the Cardinals back in 2019 and has proven to be one of the better blocking tight ends in the NFL.

However things were not always this way.

Before he was second-round selection by the Baltimore Ravens and later playing for the Cardinals, he was a quality receiving tight end in college with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Williams had 61 receptions, 986 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns in his two-year college football career.

Williams was a 2014 Mackey Award Finalist, given to the nation’s top tight end. He led all college tight ends with nine receptions of 25-plus yards that year. Williams also set the single-season record at Minnesota for receiving yards (569) and touchdowns (eight) for a tight end.

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl - Minnesota v Missouri Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

Fun fact: Williams, Cardinals’ quarterback Chris Streveler, and former Cardinals’ linebacker De’Vondre Campbell were teammates at Minnesota in 2014

In the NFL, though he has not been used extensively as a pass catcher, Williams has shown that he can catch with the best of them. Out of his 120 targets in his professional career, he caught 86 (71.6%) of them and had only two drops. The quarterback passer rating when he was targeted as a Cardinal averages out at 110.05.

He has 801 receiving yards, 14 rushing yards, and five touchdowns in his career.

The sample size of targets may be small, considering he has been in the NFL since 2015, but it is enough to show the quality of play from the young tight end.

One could ask if Williams is such a good pass catcher then why has he not made a name for himself in the NFL?

  1. Injuries has been the biggest flaw in his career thus far having missed 29 regular season games.
  2. He is not overly athletic compared to his previous tight end teammates in the NFL such as Mark Andrews, Benjamin Watson, and Dan Arnold. He ran a below average 4.78 40 at the NFL Combine.
  3. The Ravens coached and molded Williams into being a quality blocker.
Baltimore Ravens v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Maxx Williams did play in all 16 games with the Cardinals in 2019 but missed seven games last season due to an ankle injury.

He may not have the athleticism to truly take the top off of defenses or a clean injury history to make him a dependable player but what he does have is size (6’4’’ 252lbs), quality blocking skills and reliable hands when targeted.

The 27-year-old could very well be in for a breakout season as a traditional do-it-all move tight end as he enters a contract year with the Cardinals. However, I do acknowledge the Cardinals could add a veteran tight end to the mix any day now.