ANAHEIM — Mike Williams had just received the most important call of his professional life. But first, he had to call back.
You see, phone reception is less than excellent in Vance, S.C., a half square-mile of fewer than 200 people. And since the Clemson receiver had decided to celebrate in his hometown, surrounded by family and friends, taking a call from the other side of the country was a dicey prospect.
On Thursday evening, the Chargers tried to tell Williams they were taking him No. 7 overall in the 2017 NFL draft — and the call dropped. So he dialed back, and did his best to quiet the rest of the room.
“Everyone kind of paused,” Williams said. “Like, ‘What are they saying? What are they saying?’ I was just telling everybody, ‘Calm down, let me get this call.’”
Here is the Chargers’ newest player, one who will be publicly introduced to fans Saturday at StubHub Center: a 6-foot-4, 218-pound wideout with the body control to fight for red-zone passes, and one who played a crucial role in Clemson’s national championship.
Earlier this week, General Manager Tom Telesco insisted he would never pass over a “special player” to fill a need. And this position certainly wasn’t the Chargers’ biggest need, even considering star wideout Keenan Allen’s recent injury struggles.
But according to first-year coach Anthony Lynn, the decision was simple: Williams was the top player left on their board.
“You can’t have enough playmakers,” Lynn said. “He made plays all throughout college. I love the way he competes. … We’ll definitely find a role for him.
Most analysts expected the Bolts to draft a safety, and on Thursday, the board shaped up in their favor. The Browns selected Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett to start the night — and then three of the next four teams went for offense. That meant at least one of the draft’s top two safeties, LSU’s Jamal Adams and Ohio State’s Malik Hooker, would be available at No. 7. Either one would have given defensive coordinator Gus Bradley — best known for constructing Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” — a tantalizing talent in his 4-3 scheme.
The Jets selected Adams sixth — disappointing at least some in attendance at the Chargers’ draft party at Downtown Disney’s ESPN Zone. But, a few murmured, at least Hooker would still be available.
A few minutes later, the Chargers submitted their pick. It was not Hooker. At least one fan booed.
Still, the selection makes some sense. The team relocated to Los Angeles due in part to its belief that it can compete immediately. That plan involves maximizing the remaining window it has with veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, who turned 35 in December and whose contract runs through 2019.
Last season, Rivers threw for 4,386 yards and 33 touchdowns, but also led the NFL with 21 interceptions — three more than anyone else in the league. He made do with a receiving corps that was missing Allen, who tore his ACL in the season…