Javonte Williams jumped onto the scene in a major way in 2020, and suddenly finds himself in the conversation behind the big two running backs, in Najee Harris and Travis Etienne. Not quite a household name as of yet, but I have a feeling he could be at the next level. This is his journey so far…
Javonte Williams – RB, North Carolina
Williams is a local kid, born and raised in North Carolina. Not heavily recruited. He was a three star recruit, and ranked the 94th in the country as he graduated high school. As a result, his offers were relatively limited. In fact, according to 24/7, the only offer he received was UNC. So he stayed close to home, enrolled, worked his tail off, and created his own success story. He’s not a guy like Najee Harris or Trevor Lawrence who have been five star prospects, destined for the NFL in every scouting report since they emerged in high school.
Javonte Williams spent three years with the Tar Heels, making only a minor contribution in 2018 as a runner and on special teams, but improved year on year. Throughout his career at UNC, he’s shared carries with Michael Carter, who’s also predicted to land with a team on day two of the draft this year. Between the two of them, they made history in their very last game together.
A crazy record to hold, as 17 ranked UNC blew out the 10th ranked Miami Hurricanes in a 62-26 blowout. Those numbers are wild, and it was a very impressive year for both Carter and Williams, with stat lines worthy of being a lone starter, let alone shared carries.
UNC’s powerful run game allowed the two of them to excel in their very own right. The belief is that Williams might be the first off the board between them, and when his tape came to my attention. I liked what I saw.
The main difference for Williams this season, was his ability to find the end zone. He led the team in touch downs in 2019 with 6 (5 rushing, 1 receiving). In 2020, he ramped that up to 22 (19 rushing, 3 receiving). That’s a huge leap in point scoring, and something that contributed to the jump in UNC’s run game ability last season in a major way.
I have to be honest, I kind of fell in love with this guys game once I started paying attention to it. Javonte runs with heart. He runs like there’s one job available and he’s going to take it away from you. He runs like he wants to make a career out of it. He’s a powerful body type, capable of running straight through you. He’ll see you coming, and just lower his pads and run right into you, taking you for a little ride. He’s a yards after contact guy. Watch his runs. Slipping tackles. Breaking away from guys. Bowling people over and just keeps on running. Very impressive.
He’s extremely capable at angling himself to blow past you, and he’ll skip round a DB with a well timed cut. This is why his game is so interesting to watch. He can truck you, cut and juke round you, change direction, and outright out run you up the side line. He has all the traits and dynamic ability to be an every down back in the NFL. Everything he needs.
And he looks wicked fast on tape too. If he runs an impressive 40 yard dash time… people are going to talk, loudly, about Javonte Williams.
He does come from a very effective running scheme, that needs to be noted. And if you read reports about him, it’s the one thing they’re cautious of. Is the scheme allowing him to shine brighter? I think it plays a part. But I’d see it more as a platform that allowed Williams to really put his entire skill set on display.
One key thing to note, is the positive opinions on Williams in pass protection. This is something often overlooked when analysing running backs, but you can’t be an every down back if you don’t know how to protect your quarterback on pass plays. NFL teams can’t bring you out when they need pass protection, because then it becomes obvious. Of course, you don’t have to be able to bury defensive lineman, but it’s about using your body effectively and slowing down the rush, doing your part to contribute to those passing plays, and this is something Williams is held in high regard for.
He’s my third back on the board, and I feel like there’s many teams around the league who are looking at him and thinking he might fly under the radar, while everybody gets hyped about Najee Harris and Travis Etienne. But you can’t sleep on him for too long on day two of the draft, because he’s going to get snapped up, and somebody is getting a steal.
I’d liken him to a Todd Gurley at the Rams type of player. He’s not quite Alvin Kamara agile. But Gurley had that ability to make a cut and then run you off your feet, as well as possessing the power to run behind his pads and carry oncoming tacklers for a few yards. Or simply shake them off.
Javonte Williams has improved every season, and really burst onto the scene this year. His skill set is very transferrable and the upside he could reach if you consider the fact that he shared carries, could be huge. Make him your starter, give him the every down back responsibility, and I think you might have yourselves a winning ticket. I love, love, love, the potential of this young man. He’ll turn 21 just before the draft in April, and it’ll certainly be a celebration to remember. He’s a starter at the next level, and he’ll be a very good one in my eyes.
I think Williams will be off the board mid round two. I like him for all the running back needy teams. He’d be great if Arizona picked him up. Very effective in that system. However I feel sort of strongly about Arizona taking a hard look at Najee Harris in the first round.
In round two, anything goes, and just about any team could look at this young man and take a shine to him. However… Miami have important needs to address in the first round. Needs that make picking a running back, no matter how good Najee Harris is, feel sort of odd. They need receivers, an offensive linemen, and linebackers more importantly, I feel. So on day two, and when the Dolphins have two second round picks, this is the guy you need to be looking at. Miami missed out on the second round running back talent last year, skipping on Jonathan Taylor, JK Dobbins etc. Not this year. I love the pick in the second round. And I think Javonte Williams is going to be very very reliable at the next level.
Here’s a bold statement, we might look back at this draft, and realise that Javonte Williams was one of the steals of the whole thing. He really could be elite, and become a household name. Way to make a name for yourself Javonte. Remember this young mans name.