The NFL draft has come and gone, and now we can spend our time debating the top rookie rankings with landing spot added to the equation. Last week, the Los Angeles (that still feels weird to say) Chargers selected Mike Williams with the 7th overall pick. To some, it was a confusing pick given that the Chargers already have Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, and Hunter Henry in house and because the Chargers clearly had other team needs. While this pick may muddy the waters in terms of the Charger receiving game a bit, it does add plenty of clarity about the Clemson product’s health.
My reason for writing this article is because I’ve been getting some questions on Twitter about Mike Williams’ neck injury he suffered back in 2015. During the Tigers’ season opener against Wofford, Williams ran a post route in the back of the end zone. After beating the defender, Williams reeled in the pass from Deshaun Watson and attempted to land in bounds as the defender shoved him from behind, causing Williams to crash into the goal post. As Williams lay on the ground thrashing in pain, the play was reviewed, and at that point, Williams had caught is final TD catch of the 2015 campaign. After being carted off on a stretcher, news came out that the Tigers’ top receiver had fractured the C6 vertebrae in his neck, causing him to miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
The C6 vertebrae is located at the base of the neck. Any time there is a fracture in the neck, there is concern for ligament damage and potential instability, or displacement. If a bone in the neck becomes displaced, it can come into contact with the spinal cord. If severe enough, this can lead to motor and sensory changes, or in extreme cases, paralysis. However, Williams was fortunate enough to not experience any of the complications mentioned above. As a result, his fracture was treated non-surgically, and he was placed in a neck brace to allow the bone to heal.
As I previously stated, I have been getting some questions about Williams’ long-term outlook as he enters the NFL. I’ll keep this relatively short – I have absolutely zero concerns about Williams’ health moving forward. If Williams was going to have any ill effects from his injury, he would have displayed them during his 2016 season. However, he put together a stellar campaign, posting a stat line of 98/1,361/11, proving that he was 100% healthy. When a bone heals without complications, it is pretty much as strong as it was before the injury. His 2016 season combined with the fact that he was selected 7th overall in the NFL draft tell me that Williams’ injury was not a concern to the LA Chargers’ medical team, and it shouldn’t be to you either.
*Stats and injury details from ESPN