Associated Press

PRO 2021 Rookie Spotlight: Javonte Williams, RB North Carolina

Rookie Spotlight: Javonte Williams, North Carolina
Height: 5’ 9 5/8”
Weight: 215 lbs
Hands: 9 3/8”
Arm: 30 3/8”
40 yard dash: 4.63
NFL Comparison: Marshawn Lynch, Derrius Guice, David Montgomery

– highly intelligent
– absolutely elite after-contact
– smooth running style
– agile
– extremely physical
– decent hands
– patient for blocks
– good instincts/vision
– not a lot of wear

– lacks quickness to perimeter
– average speed

Scouting Notes: Williams isn’t particularly fast, but then you don’t really need to be when you can shed tackles like he can (4.19 average yards after contact in 2020). Visions of Marshawn Lynch come to mind when you watch Williams violently plow through one defender only to deftly sidestep the next and then upend another in succession. He’s equal parts thunder and lightning like we haven’t seen in one package since Lynch, or perhaps Derrius Guice. Valedictorian of his high school, Williams has a high football IQ, waiting patiently for his blocks and displaying natural instincts with the ball in his hands. Williams had the choice of a full-ride Ivy League academic scholarship or football, which tells you a little bit about the type of person he is between the ears. His footwork is quick and shifty and helps to mitigate his lack of explosion out of the backfield. As a receiver, Williams has soft hands and catches the ball away from his body, regularly using said instincts to get open on broken plays. He’s not a great perimeter runner, in fact he’s not very fast in general, but he gets north and south with authority and has little trouble finding lanes. He’s a 70+ percentile jumper in his athletic testing and ran a 90th percentile short-shuttle at his pro day, which was of little surprise when you look at his agility at the line of scrimmage to find run lanes and plow ahead. According to PFF, Javonte Williams led the nation in 2020 for forced missed tackles despite being only a split-time player in a committee. And that’s import to remember for a physical runner: Williams doesn’t have a lot of wear on his tires – Only 366 career carries. He split carries with Michael Carter at UNC, which was definitely a boon health wise, but then again, he has never been burdened with the responsibility of being a workhorse back so we don’t know how he’ll hold up as a 3-down back at the next level. Even as a back who shared duties, Williams went gangbusters in 2020, picking up 1,140 rush yards on 157 carries with 19 rushing TDs and 305 yards on 25 receptions with 3 TD catches. He has an excellent all-around profile from a production standpoint when considering the committee he was in.

Fantasy Outlook: Williams will be only 21 when the 2021 season gets underway, so that gives him a leg up over Najee Harris who will be 23 and has less tread on his tires. In fact, he’s a darkhorse to be the first RB off the table in the draft. Williams has the skill set and size to be a 3-down bellcow back in the NFL, after improving his blocking in his final year at UNC, and he would be a good fit on a team that still believes in that role – Pittsburgh and New York(Jets) come to mind as immediate fits. Even if he’s not the first back to be drafted, there’s still an argument one could make (although it’s not one we will be making) to take him first RB in dynasty leagues due to his youth and relatively fresh legs. In an age where high volume backs are becoming fewer, Williams has incredible potential to assume just such a role and hold it for multiple seasons.

Leave a Reply