Jonathan Williams RB Arkansas
Coming out of High School in 2012, Williams was a 4 star recruit out of the state of Texas and was listed as a 6’ 200 pound back. The 2012 RB class has already given us Todd Gurley and TJ Yeldon and Williams is listed in many publications as a top 20 back of that class.
As a sophomore he put up 900 yards on 150 carries averaging about 6 ypc and scored 4 TDs. As a junior he put 1190 yards on 211 carries at a 5.6 ypc and posted 12 TDs. A large chunk of this production came in his game against Texas Tech which might be where we saw the top tier of Williams putting together all the traits that made him such an intriguing prospect.
With the help of fantastic sites like DraftBreakdown and a few youtube videos I was able to catch about six games of Williams’ 2014 season. He missed the 2015 season due to a foot injury that required surgery. So pay close attention to that during the lead up to the draft and then during preseason. Rust can be expected as he gets back on the field and has to adjust to NFL game speed.
Combine info – Willaims measured in at 5106 or about 5’11” weighing in at 220lbs. His arm length was 31 5/8” and he had 10” hands (ball security, reminder that Derrick Henry has tiny little hands). He didn’t participate in any of the events other than the bench press where he put up 16 reps. Sounds like he posted a 4.55 40yd dash at the Arkansas pro day. He did not complete the Vertical Jump or Broad Jump which would’ve been nice indications of his explosiveness. His 3 cone drill was timed at 6.97 which is the same number posted at the NFL combine as Kenneth Dixon.
Things to like – Williams has a great ability to plant his foot and go. Numerous times in his tape you can see him cut and get his speed going. While watching him, rarely do you see the first man take him down. Constantly he is bouncing off that first tackler and gaining a few extra yards. It takes a gang tackle to bring him down. He also flashes a good spin move that he used from time to time. He uses his body well to set up runs. His Texas Tech game might be the upside film for Williams. In the game he gets a handoff to the left side gets past the linebackers and as he’s coming up on safety he plants fakes and the safety is left grasping air as Williams kicks that gear back and splits the safety for the TD. Against Bama, one of the top level defenses, he also flashed this planting and leaving the safety grasping. Williams has good speed for a big back, great change of gears with his start stop ability and when he runs hard great physical running style. He flashes a good jump cut and has an ability to keep his feet moving without having to come to a complete stop. Williams is a very smooth athlete who gets up to speed quick and has a good balance to him. He might not be as polished as a pass blocker but he shows a willingness to take on defenders and cuts rushers really well. He also shows good hands though he wasn’t used much in the passing game. This should help keep him on the field on all three downs.
Cons – One thing I noticed from time to time was Williams holding the ball out from his body. I didn’t see it lead to any fumbles but it’s something that could be taken advantage of by defenders at the NFL level. For a physical running back he is a bit of an upright runner. I’d like to see him lower his pad level more which should lead to more broken tackles with his size and speed. When he hesitates and dances behind the line that upright style leads to loss of yards. Tried to bounce it outside one too many times when that didn’t seem to fit his best skill set. When he bounced the ball at and tried to stretch it to the outside it looked like there was hesitation to plant and just get what he could, although his lateral explosive ability looked good. I would like to have seen him do the vertical and broad jump to see his explosive ability in his legs. Those numbers are going to show the strength in his legs and if he can punish defenders when he lowers the shoulder.
Williams is a guy to be excited about. He flashes some really strong ability. He isn’t going to be a day one NFL pick but is someone to keep an eye on. Looks like in rookie dynasty drafts he is going around the third round right now which could be a real steal when you look back. Keep an eye on where he goes on draft day and then closely monitor his health during training camp and what he is doing in the preseason games.