With plenty of NFL experience in his family tree, Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams hopes to continue the legacy at the next level.
At the age of 20, what was your toughest decision?
Chances are it wasn't deciding between entering the NFL or your redshirt junior year of college. But for former Minnesota Golden Gophers tight end Maxx Williams, that's the decision that he was faced with just months ago.
For help answering this question, he turned to his family tree, which is stocked full of athletic ability and NFL experience.
Check out these photos of Maxx Williams, an athletic tight end out of the University of Minnesota.
"It started about mid-season," Williams said at his NFL Scouting Combine press conference. "It kind of crossed my mind that maybe I had an opportunity to leave. I finished the year playing well and after our last game against Wisconsin I really sat down with my parents and we actually made lists."
Williams' mother and father are both Minnesota grads and former athletes. Rochelle, his mother, was a standout volleyball player and his father, Brian, played center and was later drafted by the New York Giants. Williams' uncle also played football for the Golden Gophers and his grandfather played quarterback for Notre Dame and was drafted by the Chicago Bears.
It's safe to say that genetics are on his side. With that experience at his disposal, he's relied on his father, specifically, for guidance throughout the entire process.
"I think my dad was a huge influence on helping me make my decision," he said. "He's taught me how to be a pro. The biggest advice he gave to me is take it day by day."
Williams made the decision to turn pro after just his redshirt sophomore year. In just two seasons with the Golden Gophers, he totaled 61 receptions for 986 yards and 13 touchdowns, and led the team in both receiving yards and touchdowns in 2013 and 2014.
While he played in a power offense that didn't focus too heavily on passing the football, Williams believes that experience taught him how to be a blocking tight end, not just a pass-catching one.
"I knew we were a power offense when I committed there," he said. "I think it actually benefited me because it taught me how to be an on-the-line blocker and play in a power scheme and it worked to our advantage because I had mismatches in the play-action game."
A player that has been commonly compared to the Dallas Cowboys' Jason Witten, Minnesota Vikings' Kyle Rudolph and former New York Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey, Williams' goal at the combine was to show off his versatility and prove that he can be productive in any role that he plays.
"I have to go out there and show scouts and GMs and coaches just what I can do," Williams said. "Run as fast as I can and try to show them I have great hands and good technique where I can be on the line blocking."
In the standard stations, Williams numbers placed him in the top-half among tight ends. He ran a 4.78 40-yard dash, jumped a 34.5-inch vertical and 117-inch broad jump, and ran the 20-yard shuttle in 4.37 seconds.
When it came time for position-specific drills, he impressed experts with his ability. After Friday's workouts, NFL.com's Bucky Brooks tabbed the young tight end as a player that stood out with his performance.
"Williams was the most natural pass catcher among the tight ends, exhibiting strong hands and impressive ball skills while snatching passes from every angle," Brooks wrote. "Additionally, Williams looked like a refined route runner getting in and out of cuts, validating comparisons to Kyle Rudolph and Jason Witten as a potential playmaker at the next level."
At 6-foot-4 and 249 pounds, Williams is viewed as a "smaller" tight end in today's NFL, and ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. listed his biggest weakness to be his strength and ability to block man-on-man. After achieving 17 reps on the 225-pound bench press — tied for 10th-most among tight ends — that concern remains.
"Body is a little soft and could use additional weight work to handle NFL hits," Williams' NFL.com draft profile says. "Won't generate push as an in-line blocker and has limited feel and instincts to move as a blocker."
Despite what the experts say, Williams remains confident that he can turn that weakness into a strength once he gets to work inside an NFL weight room.
"I would say my biggest weakness is my strength," said Williams, who hopes to put on up to 10 pounds before the season. "But I feel like my biggest weakness could turn into one of my strengths, as I turn 21, 22, and get those years and experience in the weight room developing my body."
Throughout the combine, players met with many NFL teams where plenty of difficult questions were asked. For Williams, he told reporters that he had 21 official interviews scheduled.
The most difficult question asked, he said, regarded his age and decision to declare so early. His answer, however, was simply because he wants to be the best, and to be the best, you have to play the best.
"Competition is what makes you better," Williams said. "I'm striving to be the best I am at my position and my sport and going to the next level is how I can get to there."