First-Round Bust Turned Leading Receiver? A Look At One Of The Seahawks' Successful Reclamation Projects

Part 3 of our series on training camp surprises focuses on Mike Williams, who in 2010 went from bust to big-time receiver with the Seahawks.

When Mike Williams arrived at Seahawks training camp at 2010, not only was it an unknown if he would make the team, it wasn't even clear if he was the best former first-round-pick-turned-bust named Williams playing his position.

Yet as camp went on, Big Mike Williams didn't just prove himself to be better than Reggie Williams and good enough to make the team, he also played so well that he won a starting job and went on to lead the Seahawks in receiving that year with 65 catches for 751 yards.

This week at Seahawks.com, we're looking at five of the biggest training camp surprises that have happened under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. These developments serve as reminder that nothing is set in stone this time of year, and they also reveal a little bit about Carroll and Schneider's methods.

2010: Mike Williams revives his career and wins a starting job

By the first week of 2011, the Seahawks were NFC West champs with a 7-9 record, and almost as unlikely, Williams became one of the first players of the Carroll-Schneider era to be rewarded with a contract extension. By the time the Seahawks signed Williams to that extension, the deal seemed like a no brainer—he had become Matt Hasselbeck's favorite target and a leader in a young locker room—but him earning a second contract, let alone a roster spot, was very much in doubt when Williams reported to camp five months earlier.

After starring at USC while playing for Carroll, Williams was the No. 10 overall pick in 2005, but just three years later he found himself overweight and out of football. But Williams got himself back in shape and earned a workout with his old coach, and he did enough to impress the Seahawks and get a shot on the 90-man roster. Williams not only made the most of that chance, he was an early example of the Seahawks' willingness to take a chance on a player who other teams wouldn't.   

What it told us about Carroll and Schneider:

First and foremost, Williams' successful career revival showed that the Seahawks weren't afraid of a reclamation project, especially a relatively low-risk one. The Seahawks had T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who had just signed a big deal the previous year under different leadership, as well as Deion Branch, so both starters were back in 2010, but they still gave Williams a shot not just to earn a roster spot, but eventually a chance to take over a starting job. Williams played so well in camp and the preseason that the Seahawks felt comfortable releasing Houshmandzadeh despite him having a significant amount of guaranteed money left on his deal.

And while Williams was one of the more dramatic success stories to seemingly come out of nowhere, he was hardly the only unwanted player to find success in Seattle. Marshawn Lynch was by no means a bust in Buffalo, but the Bills did decide he was expendable and parted ways with him for the bargain cost of a 2011 fourth-round pick and a 2012 fifth-rounder. Where some saw a potential headache, the Seahawks saw a player who would become their offensive identity. And when the Eagles wanted defensive end Darryl Tapp, they didn't just send the Seahawks a fourth-rounder, they threw in a little-known pass rusher named Chris Clemons for good measure. Then there are of course the numerous mid-to-late-round picks who became stars in Seattle after other teams passed on them several times over.  

Williams winning a job was also an early example of Carroll coveting big receivers, something he had plenty of at USC. Oddly enough, the Seahawks have lacked size at receiver in recent years, though that doesn't mean Carroll doesn't still want size at that position if he can find it. For Seahawks fans hoping another big receiver can rise from obscurity to become one of the Seahawks' top receivers, it's worth remembering that Chris Matthews, the breakout star of Super Bowl XLIX, was playing in Winnipeg just two seasons ago.

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