Name: Joe Williams
Position fit: Running back
Stats to know: Williams’ 22 runs of 15-plus yards were 10th-most in 2016 among draft-eligible running backs despite having the 20th-most rushing attempts.
What he does best:
- Speed and acceleration can destroy safety angles and outrun almost everyone.
- Excellent lateral agility and change of direction to make successful cuts at the last possible moment.
- Capable of getting skinny through tight holes.
- Despite his own admission of having injury issues, he had no issue carrying the workload after his return to the team, averaging 27.5 touches in his final seven games.
- Will consistently get what his blocking provides, but not able to consistently create on his own at the first level.
- His yards-after-contact numbers look fine due to forcing missed tackles and turning them into big runs, but overall isn’t great at churning out yardage on initial contact if he can’t make someone miss.
- Ball security can be poor with seven fumbles on 322 carries.
- Not utilized much in passing game.
- Dropped five of 27 catchable passes in two seasons.
- “Retired” from football for a brief period in 2016
Player comparison: Jerious Norwood, retired
Norwood was an excellent athlete who was always a threat to outrun everyone once he could get into the second level and beyond. However, he struggled to overcome poor blocking and create yardage on his own.
Bottom line: As we saw at the combine, Williams is very quick and displays impressive athleticism. His speed is his greatest asset and he is a threat to score any time he can get into the open field. If he’s paired with a very good offensive line and can get to the second level untouched more frequently, his quickness can turn those into huge runs. But he will not be able to overcome poor blocking as he cannot create at the first level on his own and won’t be able to utilize his speed. His lack of experience in the passing game initially prevents him from being a third-down back, forcing him into a lesser role as only a change-of-pace back. Teams will also need to consider and Williams will have to have to answer questions about his mid-September retirement and commitment.