Positives: Williams has good size, athletic ability and has been very productive in his career at Virginia Tech. He shows consistently good vision, has a good burst to hit the hole and get to the second level, and doesn’t waste steps in the backfield and dance around before hitting the hole. He plays North-South more than East-West, and he shows some power when running which I like. He isn’t what I would call a “power back” but he will lower his shoulder to run over people and fight for extra yards. He also has good leg drive to gain extra yardage after initial contact. He also has enough speed to get significant chunks of yardage in the NFL, and he shows good patience as a runner to let his blocks set up. He really does have impressive burst and change of direction ability for his size as well. He has a general good feel as a runner, and he consistently falls forward for additional yardage when fighting at the end of a run. He also shows pretty good hands out of the backfield, and should be an effective receiver in the NFL. Additionally he shows some effort and ability as a pass blocker which will be critical for whether he is viewed as an every down back in the NFL or not.
Negatives: Despite Williams’ impressive production at Virginia Tech I have a question about his speed. I don’t think he has the straight line speed to get the edge consistently in the NFL, and I think he is going to be more of an inside runner. I think that’s where he was most effective in college also, but the threat of him bouncing runs outside for significant yardage will be there in the NFL. He also won’t be consistently ripping off huge runs for touchdowns in the NFL because he doesn’t have elite straight line speed. I have questions about Williams’ durability also because he tends to get nicked up and also missed some time this season because of injury. At times when there is significant penetration he will dance too much in the backfield, and sometimes he will go backwards trying to evade the defenders which is definitely not going to fly in the NFL. He could also improve his hands and his pass blocking which he should do with quality coaching at the next level.
Overall: I think Williams is a very impressive player. I just wonder if he is durable enough to be a feature back in the NFL. I think he has that ability even though he doesn’t have a lot of power as a runner, but if he consistently gets nicked up and has to come in and out of a game regularly like he did this year at Virginia Tech then it will be hard for him to hang on to his feature back role. At the start of his career I think he will be just fine as a complement to an established starter, but it will be up to him, his toughness and his luck with injuries when it comes to whether or not he will be the feature back. He definitely showed that he has that ability as a freshman and at times he showed it as a sophomore, and I think that if he can stay healthy he has the ability to be a very effective back in the NFL. Especially if he can improve his hands and pass blocking which would make him a very well rounded back.
Projection: Early-mid 2nd round. Williams deserves late 1st round consideration in my opinion but running backs tend to slide a little bit, so I think he will end up going somewhere in the first 40-50 selections come draft day.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
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