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Broncos roster review: Running back Javonte Williams

Can the young back take that next step into becoming one of the NFL’s best playmakers?

Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

After the Broncos traded up to take Williams in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the buzz has been building on his potential. After a solid rookie season, is 2022 the Javonte Williams breakout season?

#33 Javonte Williams
Height: 5’10
Weight: 220 lbs
Experience: 2 years
College: North Carolina

His fit with the Broncos offense in 2022

It’s tough to really say if Javonte Williams will be the RB1 for the Broncos this season. We’re assuming Melvin Gordon will eventually drop off at some point, as trends have suggested, but he was vastly more effective last season than Javonte Williams was. The Broncos have brought in an entirely new coaching staff and offense this offseason which...only complicates the matter.

As good as Javonte Williams is with the physical side of playing the position, his mental side is still a work in progress. Keep in mind that Williams has really only been playing running back since his senior year in high school and didn’t start getting a ton of playing time till his second of three years at North Carolina. Poor decision-making and processing littered his college tape and it’s still cropping up in his NFL tape.

Denver is moving towards a more outside-zone heavy offense, which requires excellent mental acuity from backs that operate in that offense. Melvin Gordon has had time to develop there, and he’s just making better reads on runs. While he’s perhaps not producing the same highlight-reel level plays Williams has been, Gordon was consistently executing better. There’s a reason the staff wanted him back.

Javonte Williams as a gap/power back has all the ability in the world to succeed at a very high level. Indeed, he was drafted for a team with Shurmur and Munchak at the helm in the run game. To succeed in the Hackett offense, he’s going to have to grow mentally and evolve his game. Vision has been a trait that doesn’t often develop by leaps and bounds in the NFL, but Williams is inexperienced. That’s both good and bad. Gordon has been in the NFL longer than Williams has been playing running back.

Where I think Williams can shine in his second year is by playing as the “third-down” back. While Williams doesn’t have the profile of some other backs in this area, like say, Austin Ekeler, Nyheim Hines, or D’andre Swift, one area that Denver’s 2021 offense had some success with was getting Williams involved in the passing game. Williams would occasionally split out wide and was successful beating linebackers that drew out to cover him. Williams, while having some more refinement to go through, also is the best pass-protecting back on the Broncos’ roster, which will pair well with Russell Wilson’s playstyle.

Final Word

While Javonte Williams’s scheme fit with the 2022 Denver Broncos can be debated, his talent is undeniable. As he grows mentally, his physical upside suggests Williams can be a top-10 back sooner rather than later-a key factor given Denver’s immediate rise into contention. The sky is the limit for Javonte Williams, he just has to put it all together.


Who is going to be RB1 in 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Melvin Gordon
    (212 votes)
  • 74%
    Javonte Williams
    (613 votes)
825 votes total Vote Now