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Prospect Preview: Javonte Williams

Prospect Preview: Javonte Williams

Position: RBWeight: 220
College: UNCAge: 20
Height: 5′ 10″247 Rating: 3 Stars (0.8344)

By Nate Christian (@NateNFL)

The Rundown:

Part of a historic North Carolina offense, Javonte Williams was half of a nasty 1-2 punch in the backfield with Michael Carter. Williams was the so-called “thunder”, while Carter played the part of “lightning”. The thunder was certainly real, and Williams found the end zone 19 times this past season. With 25 receptions thrown in there as well, Williams has quickly flown up draft boards as a player who can immediately step into a 3-down role at the next level.

College Production:

After a decent sophomore season (933 yards at a 5.6 average), Williams became one of the best college running backs in 2020. With a North Carolina team that at one point was ranked as high as 5th, Williams was able to better play his role in a stronger offense. That led to 1,140 yards on the ground, while averaging 7.3 yards per carry, and 22 total touchdowns. With his strength and speed combination, the highlights have been fun to watch, and everyone is starting to hop on the Williams hype-train. The production was good in his junior year, leading to his early declaration, but now we look forward to his NFL future.

Strengths:

  • NFL-Ready Size
    • At 5’ 10” and 220 pounds, Williams is a thick running back, and it’s somehow surprising that he still plays bigger than his size! His thick base gives him the ability to brush off arm tackles and punish smaller defenders for trying to square him up. He also has the upper body strength to utilize stiff arms and hold off defenders. His frame is set up perfectly for a 3-down role and in a world of specialization, Williams has the physical traits to be elite.
  • Angry Runner
    • Thanks to his size Williams controls a lot of power in his game. He’s an aggressive runner who isn’t scared of contact and sometimes, in fact, goes out of his way to create contact. This violent running style is a throwback to an older NFL, but also is a trend we could see start to come back as NFL defenders get smaller and quicker. He hardly ever goes down at first contact and runs with a good pad level to help create leverage 1v1 against defenders.
  • LOS Burst
    • While Williams is no track-star, his burst around the Line of Scrimmage is impressive. His ability to hit the hole and come out the other side at nearly full speed gives him an advantage that most other backs his size don’t have. This ability helps his versatility as he can not only get to the second level quickly between the tackles, but he also has the acceleration to break it to the outside and beat a linebacker to the edge.

Weaknesses:

  • Average on Passing Downs
    • Maybe it was due to Carter being a passing-down extraordinaire, but Williams seemed average at best when it came to his role in the passing game. He was able to make most of the catches that came his way, but it didn’t seem as natural as some other backs nor did his routes look great. The biggest knock though, is his pass protection. A very important, yet underrated, ability in the NFL, Williams will be limited on NFL passing downs until he shows improvement in this area.
  • Lack of Elusiveness
    • The power and the burst are there, and the yards after contact is impressive, but the actual missed tackles (in the sense of making a defender whiff) are not prevalent on the film. This is certainly not a death sentence for Williams’ profile, that’s not the staple of his game, but it is something to be aware of. In the NFL the defenders are bigger and stronger than in the ACC, so you can’t always rely on simply running over them. His lateral ability is good enough to make some defenders miss, but he isn’t likely to create a ton of yardage when coming up to a defender in open space.

Things to Watch:

I’m very interested in seeing what Williams’ measurables end up looking like, even though usually I think of testing as more trivial in comparison to tape. His athleticism is apparent on film, but I want to see better numbers than David Montgomery ($1,111,577), who is my player comparison but didn’t do so well at the combine. Beating a 4.63 40-Yard Dash and the rest of Montgomery’s numbers, shouldn’t prove too difficult for Williams, but I do believe it is important for his draft stock. He has the thickness and frame that NFL teams want to see, but the athleticism and numbers will have to match what we see on tape. But remember, Pro Days always swing a bit in the prospect’s favor.

Projected Round/Contract:

With the recent trend in devaluing running backs in the NFL, long gone are the days of us seeing four or five RBs go in the first round. Every now and then we get a couple that sneak into the back half of the first round, but with the plug and play ability it’s happening less and less. This means that when Day 2 of the NFL Draft starts, there’s a flurry of moves to get your guy at the position. Last year we saw five running backs picked in the second round (the most of any round in the 2020 NFL Draft), and the talent was there. Williams slides into a similar draft slot as Cam Akers ($1,402,962) in the middle of the second round. This would give him a 4-year contract worth roughly $6,000,000.

Team Fits:

Javonte Williams is a versatile back who could be used on all three downs in the NFL but likely starts off in a more traditional two-down role. He’ll have to work on his transition after the catch as well as the all-important ability to protect his quarterback on passing downs. With that in mind, one team he would fit well with is the Seattle Seahawks (assuming Chris Carson doesn’t re-sign). Javonte Williams would fit that power-run scheme very well, and while he’s learning the intricacies of blitz pickups Deejay Dallas ($903,600) and/or Rashaad Penny ($3,425,367) could play out of the backfield on passing downs. The scheme fits seem near perfect in this instance and is one to watch if Williams is still on the board when the Seahawks pick with the 24th pick in the 2nd round.

Another good landing spot for Williams is the Miami Dolphins. Now whether the Dolphins will draft a RB or not is up in the air, Myles Gaskin ($871,694) played very well as the lead back in 2020 and is a cheap option for the team. Moving on from Gaskin will mean the Dolphins are looking for a top back who can do it all, and Williams could fit that mold for the young team. Landing in Miami would be a big boost for William’s fantasy stock as the team is built to succeed and he would likely see a high volume of opportunities from Day 1.

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