Scouting Profile: Running Back Jamaal Williams
Jamaal Williams, BYU
Weight: 212 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.59 seconds
3-Cone drill: 7.25 seconds
Broad jump: 10’3″
Williams is an interesting prospect because there are multiple layers to his story both on and off the field. He was suspended by the team for violating the school’s honor code by drinking, as he was cited for underage drinking in 2014, and then decided to sit out the entire 2015 season. Not only that, but he took the year off school as well, for personal reasons. When returning to the field in 2016, Williams hadn’t appeared to lose anything performance-wise.
A shifty running back who fits through small holes and creates yardage in small spaces uses his jump cut, Williams is a slippery one to tackle. He often bounces off defenders, and if that doesn’t work, he has a pretty nasty stiff arm. He keeps his legs moving and hits the hole hard, but if there’s one thing Williams lacks, it’s the initial burst from the get-go. Once he makes it to the hole, he impresses, but getting there can be an issue without solid blocking.
Once in the open field, he’ll make defenders miss, but he can also be caught from behind very easily. There really is no breakaway speed to his game, which definitely hurts his overall potential. He’s a workhorse that can carry the ball 20-plus times per game to wear down defenses (had seven games in 2016 alone with 24 or more carries), but not one who’ll post a stat line of 12 carries for 100 yards because of his lack of speed.
It’s really odd to see a player like Williams catch just 15 passes over the last two years he played, because he seemed competent in his rookie and sophomore seasons when he posted 45 receptions for 440 yards. Because of that, it’s hard to judge what he can contribute on third downs. One of the reasons they may not have used him in the receiving game, is because they kept him in to block. He is an outstanding blocker who doesn’t shy away from contact. Also important in his blocking stance is that he doesn’t automatically lower his head before contact, helping him see where the defender is at all times.
When some team drafts Williams, it’s still a question as to what they are getting. Is he a two-down back that can pass block? Is he a player who can do it all, but just hasn’t been given the chance? His vision is one of the best qualities of his game, and that’s something that cannot be taught. Because of that, Williams should find a home in the NFL Draft, and could potentially make a difference one day.
Potential landing spot
Some have tied the Chiefs to a running back in the early rounds, but I’m not one of them. While I think Spencer Ware is one of the solid running backs in the league, he does have some question marks surrounding whether or not he can carry the load for the Chiefs. Because of that, taking a running back with the upside of Williams to handcuff Ware later in the draft makes sense. Andy Reid is known to get the most out of his running backs and Williams should be no exception.
He was a tough one to find a comparison to, but I ultimately landed on Ryan Mathews. Coming out of college, Mathews wasn’t looked at as someone who would be used heavily in the receiving game, and he also didn’t have elite long speed. Both can make tacklers miss and can find the hole regularly, though Mathews may have a better first step. You don’t see many long Mathews runs and you won’t be seeing many from Williams on the pro level, either. I’m sure whoever drafts Williams can only hope he offers what Mathews has over his career, but from what I can tell, it’s definitely in the realm of outcomes.
To read up on some of the other high-profile NFL Draft prospects, check out the links below:
Leonard Fournette – (RB, LSU)
Joe Mixon – (RB, Oklahoma)
Christian McCaffrey – (RB, Stanford)
Dalvin Cook – (RB, Florida State)
Alvin Kamara – (RB, Tennessee)
D’Onta Foreman – (RB, Texas)
Wayne Gallman – (RB, Clemson)
Samaje Perine – (RB, Oklahoma)