Javonte Williams enters the NFL Draft after exploding this last season for North Carolina. Williams spent the last two seasons splitting the backfield with the talented Michael Carter. He’ll not only have to separate himself from Carter now but other NFL hopefuls leading up to the draft. One look at the highlight reel for Williams, and it’s not hard to see why the hype is building. Can Javonte Williams be “the guy” for an NFL team? For your fantasy football team? Let’s find out.
Javonte Williams College Stats
Williams was a three-star prospect, per 247sports, coming out of high school. For anyone questioning his speed, in 2016, Williams won a state title in track in the 4x100-meter relay. Javonte Williams transformed into a tackle-breaking goliath by putting on 15 pounds during his three years at North Carolina. In 2020, Williams ranked seventh (out of 150 running backs with 75 or more rushing attempts) in yards after contact per attempt (4.59). This was an increase even over a productive campaign in this respect in 2019. In 2019, Willaims ranked 14th (out of 198 running backs with 75 or more rushing attempts) in yards after contact per attempt (4.19). Williams was not only adept at mauling defenders but breaking off big plays after doing so. Last season, he led all back in missed tackles (75) while also ranking second in carries of 15+ yards (27). What makes Williams’ collegiate rushing production even more impressive is the offensive line he was forced to take handoffs behind. North Carolina ranked 71st and 74th in power success rate and 49th and 101st in stuff rate per Football Outsiders during his final two seasons.
Williams might not be the pass game weapon that Najee Harris or Travis Etienne is, but he is more than serviceable in this area. He displayed improvement in his pass game skills in 2020, ranking 22nd (out of 98 running backs with 15 or more targets) in yards per route run (1.64). In 2019 Williams managed 1.48 (35th out of 166 backs with 15 or more targets) yards per route run. Will Javonte Williams ever rival Alvin Kamara in receiving chops? Probably not. Could he catch 35 balls in a season as a check-down option? Yes.
Javonte Williams is an NFL workhorse
- Three down skillset
- Tackle breaking
- Pass protection
It’s true Javonte Williams has never handled more than 166 carries in any collegiate season. This should not detract from the view that he can be a three-down featured runner in the NFL. If anything, the presence of Michael Carter is allowing Wiliams to enter the NFL with more tread on the tires. Williams had four games this past season with 19 or more touches. In those games, Williams averaged 201.5 total yards per game, surpassing 119 rushing yards in each. Williams can carry the load and handle 15-20 touches per game weekly.
Javonte Williams runs with a blend of power and elusiveness that will translate. NFL comps are a dangerous game because every player has a different set of expertise, and no two are the same. In mentioning that, I’m still going to offer one because if you’re not able to watch him play before Week 1 of 2021, I want you to understand what he brings to the table. If Chris Carson and Josh Jacobs were melded into one player, his name would be Javonte Williams.
Another feather in the cap for Javonte Williams that can help him stay on the field is his pass protection. Williams is going to make his quarterback happy from Day 1 in the NFL. In 2020, Williams took over as the primary blocking back on passing downs for North Carolina with 64 pass-blocking snaps to Michael Carter’s 32. In that sample, Williams allowed only two hurries and two pressures.
Javonte Williams’ Weaknesses
- Williams will likely run somewhere in the neighborhood of a 4.5 40-yard dash at his pro day. This is a perfectly fine time for any NFL running back. Just don’t expect Williams to break any franchise records for the longest rush.
If you were expecting a longer list in this category, I’m sorry, but Williams is simply that good. If we’re splitting hairs, I could have included his abilities in the passing game are adequate but not game-changing. This would be nothing more than listing faults just to fill up the page, though.
Where will Javonte Williams land in the second round?
Three teams pick between 34-36th in the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, and Miami Dolphins that all make sense. If Williams were to go to one of these teams, that likely means Najee Harris and/or Travis Etienne are already off the board. I won't be surprised if Williams is the second running back selected in this draft, though.
If those other backs fall to the top of this round, Williams could slide to one of three teams sitting in the pick 56-60 range. The three teams that have a need at the position or could address it are the Steelers, Seahawks, and surprisingly the Saints. The Steelers and Seahawks are obvious spots where Williams could walk and be the Week 1 workhorse. The Saints' mention could have just elicited an eye roll, but hear me out. Latavius Murray is 31 years old, and if the Saints were to cut him, they would save 2.4 million against the cap. Williams would then inherit the backup or big back role alongside Alvin Kamara.
The Jets, Falcons, Dolphins and Steelers offer Williams landing spots that could allow him to finally be "the guy." He could find himself as a top 20-24 back by season's end if that happens. The Seahawks and Saints could limit him to RB3 or flex territory. Rashaad Penny's role would be the determining factor in Seattle.