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Broncos sent their running back’s coach to the UNC pro day

Could we see a running back drafted early in the draft?

Western Carolina v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

According to reports, the Broncos were among the teams who sent their running backs coach to the North Carolina pro day to watch running back prospects Javonte Williams and Michael Carter.

Javonte Williams figures to be a top 40 to 50 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft while his UNC teammate and tailback Michael Carter figures to go sometime on day 2 as well.

I’m personally a big fan of Javonte Williams because he’s a break tackling machine. His game reminds me a lot of Browns running back Nick Chubb. He’s a violent runner who should be very successful in the NFL. With the Broncos likely in the market for a running back, I wouldn’t hate to see them potentially select Williams early.

NFL Network’s lead draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has Williams graded as his 26th best prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Williams is a thick, compact running back with outstanding vision, power and quickness. He is quick to find/attack the hole with a bounce in his step on inside runs. He has tremendous lateral quickness to make defenders miss in tight quarters. He runs with a low pad level and accelerates through contact. Williams has the burst to get the edge on outside runs and he’s elusive once he gets into the open field. He is effective as a checkdown option in the passing game and flashes some route polish on angle routes in the middle of the field. He has reliable hands, although you will see some double catches. He is aware in pass protection and can squat and absorb blitzers. Overall, Williams is a complete player and could emerge as the best running back in the 2021 class.

Meanwhile. Carter is a different type of back compared to Williams, but he still has the potential to be a very good one. He’s got some wiggle to his game and is an excellent pass-catcher as well. In today’s NFL, these skillsets are valuable and he figures to be an asset in a team's backfield rotation.

The Draft Network’s Joe Marino had this to say about UNC’s Michael Carter who the Broncos sent their running back’s coach to scout at his pro day.

North Carolina running back Michael Carter was a steady presence in the Tar Heels backfield since 2017 but truly broke out over his final two seasons, where he collected 2,669 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns. He has terrific vision, burst, elusiveness, receiving skills, and decision-making as a runner that makes him so productive. While he is on the leaner side, Carter is a good inside and outside runner. He does well to make intelligent and timely cuts while blending patience with decisiveness, making his blocks right, and running to daylight. While he isn’t overly dynamic when it comes to contact balance and breaking tackles, he is slippery and his wiggle enables him to find yards after contact. For a team looking to employ a two-back system, Carter would be an outstanding complementary option to another back that brings size and power components to the table.

The Broncos figure to be players in the running back prospects during the draft. They have veteran Melvin Gordon who was solid last season for the Broncos but he is entering the final year of his contract and has some injury concerns as well. They also let former fan favorite Phillip Lindsay walk in free agency where he signed with the Houston Texans. While they did add special teams ace Mike Boone and still have former third-round selection Royce Freeman on the roster, finding a 1B to Gordon seems like a priority.

It makes sense too. If the Broncos go with Lock, a rookie, or a Minshew/Darnold, they’ll need a strong rushing attack to take the pressure off of them. If the Broncos want to be successful in 2021, they’ll need to win by defense and the run game. The defense appears to be settled and I believe the run game will be a focus during the draft.