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USC's Williams gets the Palmer treatment

Updated: 5:55 p.m.


INDIANAPOLIS - USC wide receiver Damian Williams is one of those guys who might not be rated high enough to go at the Bengals' No. 21 spot in the first round but he may not be around in the second-round, either.

Yet he's smart, versatile, can return kicks and has a vote of confidence from Bengals No. 3 quarterback Jordan Palmer. Palmer is one of the guys throwing to him when he works out at Irvine, Calif., with agent Dave Dunn's other clients.

Palmer says he's big and bright and knows a good route when he sees it. The 6-1, 195-pound Williams says he's "a studier," and it sounds like he's done his homework on Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.

"His routes are exceptional. He may not run them at the right depth sometimes. It may not look the way you want it to look sometimes," Williams said Friday at the NFL scouting combine. "But the way he gets in and out of his cuts, it's amazing. I've never seen that kind of footwork the way he gets in and out."

Williams has been soaking it in from Palmer and he's very aware who his brother is. And not just a Heisman Trophy winner from USC.

"His brother is the starting quarterback so that's definitely a plus," Williams said. "He shows me the ins and outs of what Carson looks at as far as the receiver coming off the line. There's only so much time and he's on to the next guy. Just little tidbits and what coaches are looking for."

Williams has played all over the place and that has to appeal to a Bengals coaching staff that is trying to free The Ocho from double coverage. Last year Williams played at Z and this year he filled in for the injured X while also moving in and out of USC's version of H-back. Throw in two return touchdowns and a pragmatic view of things, and if he hits his goal and cracks 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, the Bengals would have to think about Williams, wouldn't they?

"At the worst, maybe I get drafted in the seventh round, but I'm still in the NFL," he said. "(People) get caught up in the hype. If I still get to play ... the Colts had some guys drafted in the (late rounds) and they played exceptionally well."

Speaking of wide receivers, Georgia Tech's Demaryius Thomas surfaced in the media room Friday on crutches. He had surgery Sunday for the fifth metatarsal he broke in his left foot warming up for the three-cone drill last week and he doesn't know if he'll be able to get his own personal pro day in by April 15. He thinks he needs it to keep the first-round status bestowed on him by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., in a projection that had him going to Cincinnati.

You can tell by his visits that the Bengals at 21, the Patriots at 22 and the Ravens at 25 are all looking for the same thing. He said he has interviews with the Bengals and Patriots Friday night and the Ravens on Saturday.

Still, it really hurts Thomas not to be here running routes, his big knock. He says he's been running 4.38 40s and his size (6-3, 230) is Andre Johnsonish, but he also admitted, "I ran a lot of routes in school, but we just didn't run them in the game." And that's the price of playing in a run-oriented offense.

With Jerome Simpson having so much trouble running routes, if the Bengals decide Thomas is a project, how can they take him?

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