Name: Jamaal Williams
Position: Running Back
Pro Team: Green Bay Packers
College Team: Brigham Young University
Draft Status: Round Four, Pick #134 Overall
- Height – 6’0″
- Weight – 212 lbs
- Hands – 10″
- Arm Length – 31 1/4″
- 40 yard dash – 4.59 sec
- Three cone drill – 7.25 sec
- 20 yard shuttle – 4.53
- Vertical Jump – 30.0 inch
- Broad Jump – 123.0 inch
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- Great balance, along with extremely strong hips and legs (the two usually come hand-in-hand). This allows him to bounce off tackles, fall forward and not get taken down easily.
- Powerful, “eyes closed, head first, can’t lose” mentality – he attempts to run over any defender in his way with a galloping running style.
- Direct runner – he doesn’t dance. In the NFL, the ability to pick up the two or three yards available rather than losing them attempting to make something special happen will gain him the trust of his coaches early on.
- Ball security – Williams only lost two fumbles on 786 college touches.
- Even though he made almost half of his college receptions in his freshman year (27 of 60), he is a capable receiver.
- His pass protection is fantastic – he gives strong effort, and has both the awareness to identify his man and the strength to hold them off.
- While he excels with power and strength, Williams is behind the curve is speed and explosion. He isn’t a breakaway runner by any means, and scored poorly at the NFL combine.
- Can be too aggressive and run into the back of his offensive line or plow straight ahead when going around or looking to shake a defender would be a better choice. Similarly, he loves to spin (and he’s great at it), but sometimes it looks like he could just fall forward instead.
- With his consistently strong and straight forward style, he lacks the “wow” plays you’d want from a running back in fantasy football. He might provide the floor, but can he reach a high ceiling?
Williams has a huge opportunity to become the “banger” and touchdown vulture in one of the most prolific offenses in the league. With a current starting running back who is very new to the position in Ty Montgomery, it’s clear the team is looking to find a star in the backfield, or at the very least, add to it to form a committee. Alongside Williams, they added rookies Aaron Jones and Devante Mays – are they content with Montgomery?
Montgomery made the switch to running back last season, and burst onto the scene with two straight games with ten receptions (mostly from the backfield). However, despite the fact he was the “lead” back, he only received double-digit carries once in the whole of the regular season. In fact, he didn’t top 60 yards on the ground outside of his 16-162-2 performance in week 15 against Chicago. Although it looks like he’ll be given the start at the beginning of the season, it might not be long before Williams starts to rotate in.
It’s still the Aaron Rodgers show in Green Bay. The Packers finished in the top seven in passing offense in 2016, but all the way down at 20th on the ground. They didn’t lose any targets for Rodgers, and any team that has Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb would be wise to utilize them (not to mention Martellus Bennett and a strong pass-catcher in Montgomery). In fact, whoever the receivers are, throwing the ball should still be the top priority with Rodgers at the helm.
Also, I won’t write off Montgomery without acknowledging that he could simply adapt to being a full-time starter for the Packers. According to beat writer Greg Matzek, Green Bay feels he can “shoulder the load”, and he’s come in with more of a running back body after his first off-season at the position. Williams will have to fight off the veteran (as well as the other rookie runners) to see the ball. Could Jones or Mays surprise everyone and usurp the fourth-rounder?
My belief is that Williams will be a part of a running back rotation to start the year, but that he’ll earn more touches as the year goes on. Although it will be exciting to see how Montgomery has adapted to the running back position, Williams has been productive from it and has a lot more experience. The Packers like to keep their backs fresh, and Williams could see extensive action early on.
Matt Francisovich sees Williams as a “polished, NFL-ready back” and that he “can be a primary back at the next level”. I see it too, although I also don’t see a transcendent player who completely takes over a backfield and isn’t challenged by other runners. While Williams could even earn the starting role by the end of this season, Green Bay could quite easily continue to look for a talented runner in next year’s strong class (unless Williams has a Jordan Howard-type year). That said, if Williams is ‘effective’, finding a new runner won’t be a priority.
When watching Williams, I was racking my brains to think of which professional he reminded me of, and then it came to me – a DeMarco Murray/Latavius Murray hybrid. Now, these are two players who have been extremely productive in the NFL and there’s a clear talent gap between them (certainly DeMarco) and they rookie. However, stylistically, these are some players to have in mind when thinking about Williams and his playing style. Our Austan Kas believes Williams is reminiscent of Matt Forte as a runner.
Similarly, Jeremy Hill and Terrance West are two players whose no-nonsense mindsets have led to some success but less of an infatuation from the dynasty audience. Williams fits this style, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he becomes someone who no one really “loves” because he isn’t producing highlight-reel plays, but can still be a solid piece on your rosters.
Projected Range for a Rookie Draft
Williams was at 20th among rookies in our May Dynasty ADP, which would put him at 2.08. I’ve seen him go higher, especially in non-PPR leagues (where he could hit the top of the second round), and all the way down at pick number 34 in a 2QB league. I snagged him with that 34th pick, and I’d recommend taking advantage if he does fall towards the end of the second round or start of the first in your rookie drafts – if he can provide “committee production” from that far down in your drafts, you can deem it a solid pick.
As well as editing for DLF, James writes for Sky Sports and can be found on Twitter at @JS_Football