Auburn Football: Will Duke Williams Return in 2015, or Jump to the NFL?


Sunday morning is a good time for us little guys to pick the brains of SEC Network analysts like Booger McFarland and Cole Cubelic via Twitter.

Over the last two weeks, I was able to do just that in order to gain some insight to a question many Auburn football fans have been asking: Will D’haquille Williams – and Sammie Coates, for that matter – be back in 2015?

Personally, I wasn’t surprised at all by McFarland’s response. If you’ve followed us on Twitter at all this season during Auburn football games, I’ve made it very clear I expect 2014 to be the only season in which Duke Williams is a member of the Auburn football program. He’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, but looks much larger. He’s a physical receiver that provides matchup problems for smaller defensive backs and slower linebackers. He’s not a burner, but he’s got great hands and tremendous athleticism.

Williams is Auburn’s leading receiver with 45 catches, 730 yards and five touchdowns – though Coates, a fellow draft eligible junior and freak of nature in his own right, isn’t far behind now with 717 yards and four TDs on 30 grabs. The Louisiana native emerged as quarterback Nick Marshall‘s favorite target (and Jeremy Johnson‘s against Arkansas) almost immediately, despite the fact Coates led the team in every major category in 2013.  It seemed like a forgone conclusion that Williams would play on Sundays in 2015. Then, this conversation with Cubelic came along.

That’s a promising percentage if you’re hoping to see more of Williams at Jordan-Hare Stadium next season – and it’s much higher than any I would expect. As Cubelic (a former offensive lineman for the Tigers) alludes, he has sources close to the situation. Therefore, his insight is solid and not pure speculation.

Still, if odds are 70% that Willliams returns, there’s still a 30% chance he doesn’t. And as time passes following the season and players think more and more about playing for a paycheck, there’s a good chance the odds could swing in favor of jumping to The League.

If either Williams or Coates is back as one of Johnson’s options next season, it’s a win for the Tigers. At this point, Coates is talented enough to intrigue NFL coaches and general managers, but he hasn’t been consistent enough (particularly with his hands) to be considered one of the best wide receiver prospects in the 2015 Draft. Williams, though, might be worthy of a pick in one of the first two rounds.

It will be interesting to see how things shake out for the two Tigers, and where they are graded by NFL talent evaluators after the season. In the mean time, we just have to wait and see how the percentages play out.

UPDATE: It appears Cubelic has changed his mind.

We can still hope, but it appears the odds have already changed and DUUUUUUUUUKE Williams may be headed to the NFL.

Next: Nick Marshall Sets Passing, Total Offense Records

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