Former Ball State University wide receiver Jordan Williams-Lambert will have a second chance to realize his dream of NFL stardom this summer with the New Orleans Saints.
After playing football at North Central High School near Indianapolis, IN, Williams-Lambert traveled about an hour up the road to attend Ball State University, where he was a standout receiver for the Cardinals. A 2013 teammate of current Saints star Willie Snead, the two combined for 178 receptions, 2,566 yards, and 24 touchdowns that season, before Snead moved on to NFL fame. Williams-Lambert finished his Ball State career with 200 catches, 2,723 yards and 24 scores from 2013-15; all top 5 marks in the program's history. Despite his productivity, and finishing on the All-MAC team in both of his final two seasons, he went undrafted in the 2016 NFL draft.
Williams-Lambert signed a contract with New Orleans following the draft, where he would compete with one of the most well-stocked positions on the team. He struggled in the 2016 preseason, finishing with only 3 receptions for 58 yards in three games played, having problems with dropped passes and crispness in his patterns. Sean Payton and the offensive coaching staff thought highly enough of the potential shown in practices to keep Williams-Lambert on the team's practice squad for the 2016 season, then re-signing him to a contract following the regular season.
Jordan Williams-Lambert doesn't possess game-breaking speed, as he was consistently timed in the 4.64 range of the 40-yard dash while preparing for last year's draft. What he does bring to the New Orleans receiving corps is good height (6-foot-3, 228-lbs), long arms, and the willingness to fight for every ball thrown his direction. He has very good body control, particularly on the sideline patterns, and tracks the ball well on mid-range and deeper routes. His collegiate film shows a player that uses his superior reach to snatch the ball out of the air and bring it into his body well. Although not known as a terrific athlete, he has good leaping ability and shows the potential to use his height against smaller defensive backs.
Williams-Lambert may still have an uphill battle to make this team in 2017. Snead and Michael Thomas are the sure starters, and Brandon Coleman and offseason free agent acquisition Ted Ginn Jr. are the likely number 3 and 4 receivers at this stage. That leaves a battle between Williams-Lambert, fellow 2016 UDFAs Tommylee Lewis and Jake Lampman, 2017 undrafted LSU product Travin Dural, athletic project Justin Thomas, and Corey Fuller—who shined in recent workouts, for what is likely the final receiver spot.
Nearly all of the Saints wideouts in the Sean Payton era have been acquired either through the draft or undrafted free agent signings. Prior to the signing of Ginn this spring, players like David Patten, Terrance Copper, Courtney Roby, and T.J. Graham were some that had any receptions with another NFL team before spending brief time in New Orleans. The Saints have also shown a tendency to find receivers either late in the draft, or as undrafted players. Lance Moore is the most famous example among the undrafted, and Marques Colston as a 7th Round draft pick is the most accomplished wide receiver in team history. Last year's Saints receiving corps had Snead and Coleman who had went undrafted, along with Williams-Lambert and Lampman on their practice squad.
Jordan Williams-Lambert will have an opportunity to progress his game and make a contribution to the 2017 New Orleans Saints. The team's coaching staff thinks enough of him to make sure he returned for a second chance, so perhaps we should take notice.