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2021 NFL Draft: Scouting Broncos running back Javonte Williams

Williams was my favorite back in the draft.

North Carolina v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos traded up in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft to select former UNC running back, Javonte Williams. He is a 5’10”, 212lb running back who was considered one of the top backs in the draft. He was ranked as the third-best running back in the 2021 NFL Draft according to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler.

Javonte Williams played a total of three seasons at the University of North Carolina and was one of the better and more productive backs in the country. He shared a backfield with Michael Carter but was still able to put up impressive numbers. During his three-year career at UNC, Williams totaled 2,297 yards rushing on 366 career carries. He also totaled 29 touchdowns and averaged an impressive 6.3 yards per carry during his career. He also hauled in 50 career receptions for 539 yards and 4 touchdowns.

This past season, Williams totaled 157 carries for 1,140 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also hauled in 25 receptions for 305 yards and 3 touchdowns. That’s nearly 1,500 yards from scrimmage with a total of 22 touchdowns this past season which is pretty impressive.

Accolades (via goheels.com)

  • Named offensive MVP
  • Maxwell Award Semifinalist
  • Doak Walker Award Semifinalist
  • AP All-America Team (Second Team)
  • PFF ACC Player of the Year
  • AP All-ACC First Team
  • All-ACC Second Team
  • Graded out as the best running back in the country according to Pro Football Focus
  • Led the nation with 75 avoided tackles, was second with 42 rushes of 10+ yards, and was third with 72 rushing first downs
  • Set single-season program records with 132 points and 22 total touchdowns (fourth-most in the country)
  • Tied Tar Heel legend Don McCauley (1970) with 19 rushing TDs
  • His 1,140 rushing yards were the 13th most in program history, sixth-most in the country, and third-best in the ACC
  • Third in the ACC with 103.6 rushing yards and second with 131.4 scrimmage yards per game

Javonte Williams

Running Back, Junior, North Carolina

Height: 5’10 | Weight: 212lbs | 40-time: 4.55 seconds

Arm Length: 30 7/8” | Hands: 9 3/8”

Vertical Jump: 36 inches | Broad Jump: 10’3” | Bench Press: 22 reps

Short Shuttle: 4.09 seconds | 3-Cone Drill: 6.93 seconds

Film Room

Scouting Report

Strengths

  • Well built runner
  • Strong and powerful legs
  • A powerful and violent runner who rarely goes down after first contact
  • Incredible balance and body control
  • A break tackling machine
  • Has a nasty stiff arm that he uses consistently
  • Has great feet for a bigger runner
  • his vision and cut back ability stand out
  • Should be a reliable short-yardage/goal-line back
  • Good lateral quickness
  • Is an able pass catcher but could be better
  • Can pass protect which should help him get on the field early on
  • Former linebacker
  • No injury, character, or maturity concerns

Weakness

  • Not a “twitchy” athlete
  • A little stiff in the hips
  • Doesn’t have the best acceleration
  • Lacks “long speed” and probably won’t break too many long runs
  • His physical running style could lead to wear and tear
  • Never was the bell-cow in college
  • Inconsistent hands at times

What others are saying about Broncos running back Javonte Carter

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler on Javonte Williams via his draft guide

SUMMARY: A part-time starter at North Carolina, Williams shared the workload with Michael Carter under offensive coordinator Phil Longo, playing more of the thunder role to Carter’s lightning. Both running backs enjoyed remarkable 2020 seasons and finished their careers as the only players in school history (minimum 300 rush attempts) to average better than 6.0 yards per carry. Williams is an incredibly strong runner with a stout stiff-arm to dump defenders, leaving broken tackles all over the field. A linebacker-turned-running back as a senior in high school, he still has plenty of room to improve his run tempo and patience, especially when the run design isn’t there. Overall, Williams can be an inconsistent decision-maker at the line of scrimmage, but he creates for himself through balance and power at contact and forces defenders to be near perfect with their technique to get him on the ground, similar to a more compact version of Leonard Fournette.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein on Javonte Williams (link)

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. He sees the front fairly well and has above-average hips and the creativity to add to his rush total with more than just power. 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. Williams is best-suited to gap, power and inside zone rather than flowing wide, where he lacks one-cut quickness. He will drop passes from time to time but has the route-running and protection toughness to take over as a three-down RB1 fairly early in his career.

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah who ranked Javonte Williams as his 25th best player in the 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 check down 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.

Javonte Williams Spider Graph

Javonte Williams RAS

How does running back Javonte Williams fit with the Broncos

In my opinion, Javonte Williams is a future star running back for the Broncos. I think he can be that good and give the Broncos their own version of Nick Chubb.

Early on, Williams figures to be in a running back tandem with Melvin Gordon. He should at least get some short-yardage and goal-line carries as well. I think Gordon will continue to be the third-down back, but Williams could eat into those snaps as the season goes on.

I think the Broncos will have a solid one-two punch in the backfield and I don’t think it’s impossible to see Williams get to or near 1,000 yards and get at least 5 to 7 rushing touchdowns as well.