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Broncos roster review: Rookie running back Javonte Williams

Williams can bring an element to the Broncos that could make their offense even more dynamic and tough to stop.

NFL: Denver Broncos Rookie Minicamp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

When I first saw the tweet from Josina Anderson, I thought to myself, “That’s a helluva quote.”

When George Paton and the Denver Broncos traded up in the second round of the NFL Draft to take running back Javonte Williams, my excitement level shot through the roof. Couple that with the highlights the Broncos sent out on the Twitter machine, I can’t wait to see what “Pookie” can bring to Denver’s offense.

#33 Javonte Williams, RB
Age 21. 5’10”, 220 lbs.
College: North Carolina

The Good

For those haven’t seen Anderson’s tweet from just hours before the second day of the Draft, she tweeted a quote from a NFL team source on Williams. You can see the tweet, but I have to include the quote:

“He’s the best running back in the Draft. He has the ability to be a 1,000 yard rusher and receiver like Christian McCaffrey. He’s as physical as Nick Chubb, as gifted as Alvin Kamara on third down and as patient as LeVeon Bell. He’s the MF truth.”

If you just watch the highlights, you can see all of those traits. To add that element to the Broncos offense has the potential to take that phase of the game to a whole new level.

Obviously Paton and Denver’s franchise like Williams. You don’t trade up in the second round to take a running back if you don’t. The Broncos clearly think to bring a lot to the offense, and the expectation is there that happens.

But no one expects Williams to hit that level of play and look those great running backs right off the back. That’s not to say he can’t and won’t, but let’s pump the breaks a little bit as well.

A lot people think Williams was the best running back in the Draft. I’ll take their word for it. I don’t get to watch as much college football as I would like.

As Lance Zierlein said in his Draft profile:

“Big, broad bully back who runs with an exciting blend of animosity and feel as a future every-down starter in the league. With just 366 carries under his collegiate belt, Williams hasn’t seen much tread come off the tires, but teams might speculate that his running style could lead to some in-season wear and tear. He’s a terror behind his pads, creating yardage by battering and discarding tackle attempts.”

Some of the strengths that Zierlein mentioned:

  • Quality feel for development and flow of the run lane.
  • Good creativity for a power back.
  • Runs a tight track off the blocker’s hip on cuts.
  • Wide base with feet under him for A+ contact balance.

The Bad

Expectations are a great thing.

No matter what you do for a living, they keep you motivated and help you strive to get even better.

But unrealistic expectations are also counterproductive. Whether you set them or they come from someone else. That means it’s great that people think Williams can as productive as McCaffrey, as physical as Chubb, as good on third down as Kamara and as patient as Bell. However, the Broncos just need Williams to be best version of himself.

In terms of areas that Williams can improve, as Zierlein said in his profile:

“He lacks run-away speed for the long touchdowns but runs with above-average vision and contact balance to succeed at a high rate near the goal line. He tends to trust the blocking scheme and keep his runs on track but can recalibrate when needed.”

Zierlein added that Williams has a tendency to drop passes but Williams has the route-running and protection toughness to take over as a three-down RB1 fairly early in his career. Pass protection is huge for a young running back, and if Williams is able to carry over that quality from college to the Broncos, he’ll find himself on the field a lot as a rookie.

Some of the weaknesses that Zierlein included in his profile:

  • Just two career games with a run over 40 yards.
  • Running style could cause in-season wear and tear.
  • Might need to work on ball security.
  • Below-average hands with too many drops.

Final word

Denver has the pieces in place to have a dynamic offense. To add a running back with the qualities and abilities that Williams brings to the equation only increases the odds the offense turns the corner.

The Broncos haven’t had a dynamic three-down running back in a long time. If Williams is able to deliver like that team source said to Anderson, watch out.