NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jamaal Williams

BYU
Senior 6’0 210
Running Back

Jamaal Williams is a downhill runner with good vision and looks complete when it comes to blocking and pass catching.

Good:
– Good vision and feel for cut backs
– Tough to bring down
– Always falls forward
– Experience as a blocker with good form, moves his feet, and most importantly effort
– Strong stiff arm

Bad:
– Slow out of cuts
– Doesn’t have big play speed
– Will unnecessarily leave feet when blocking
– Runs upright

Notes:
– Long lower body
– Downhill runner that gains speed
– One cut back, best suited for zone blocking scheme
– Gets what’s blocked
– Not much experience as a pass catcher over last two years but has run routes out of backfield and as wide receiver
– Experience in pro style system (spread and under center formations)
– Lost two fumbles in four years (both as a senior)

Williams came into BYU and was able to get playing time early and often, setting BYU records for carries, yards and touchdowns as a true freshman finishing with 166 carries 775 yards and 12 touchdowns. Williams was also able to reel in 27 catches for 315 yards, which would prove to be his best season as a pass catcher by a considerable margin. As a sophomore, Williams continued to improve finishing the season with 1233 yards and seven touchdowns while adding 18 catches for 125 yards. His junior season took a step back, accumulating 518 yards in eight games before his season was cut short with a knee injury.

While recovering from the injury and facing a minimum one game suspension to begin the 2015 season for undisclosed team violations, Williams took the year off from football and from school. Returning in 2016, his teammates named him a captain and Williams was able to rush for a career high 1375 yards, 12 touchdowns and 5.9 yards per carry.

From a physical standpoint, Williams is well built for a running back. As a prospect, Williams is a running back that has a lot to really like from this draft class. He is a downhill runner who gains speed as he runs, and has good vision/feel for cut backs. Based on the success he had in college, it appears that he would be best fit for a zone blocking scheme to use his one cut and go ability. Williams is a tough runner that’s hard to bring down with one man. He seems to always fight his way back to the line of scrimmage when hit in the backfield and most times falls forward when he is finally tackled.

One of the biggest things that will help Williams in his transition to the NFL is his blocking ability and experience. Some believe that blocking ability is a bonus only and not a negative, but it’s become very clear that in a passing league, backs aren’t going to work themselves into playing time without the ability to block. At the end of the day, form, feet and posture can be taught. Effort can’t be and that’s what should help him get on the field earlier than most backs in the class.

Another thing I hear often as a negative is that the player “get’s what is blocked.” While most use it to say they don’t have the ability to create on their own and create big plays, I choose to look at it from a different view. Most fans and media like to see guys that can rip of big chunks but as a play caller following a designed game plan, you want the backs to limit negative plays. Williams has the ability to negate even poorly blocked runs and still gash defenses with big cuts.

Williams measured in at the Senior Bowl weigh-ins shorter and lighter than he was listed on the BYU website which may hurt him as he was regarded as a bigger back. Regardless of his measurements, Williams looks bigger because of his long legs. This could be something teams may not like because it leaves defenders with larger targets to tackle. Williams also appears to run a bit higher than most scouts and coaches would prefer.

In addition to long legs, he’s and is an upright runner that offers even more surface area to tackle. This could also contribute to his cuts seeming to be slower. They worked at the college level but might be a concern at the next level. Something that may hang up teams and allow him to fall into the middle rounds may be his top end speed. Williams doesn’t seem to have the big play speed and when he does break off pays he will often get run down from behind. The only knocks I have on him as a blocker are that he will at times drop his head which will cause you to lose your man and miss blocks. He will also leave his feet to block at times when it’s not necessary. I understand that it is called for in situations when you’re blocking across the quarterback from inside out, but Williams will use it other times when it’s not needed and leaves him susceptible to getting beat.

Something that needs a deeper dive would be his huge drop off in receiving productions and opportunities. Might be scheme, might be play calling, might be quarterback, or it might be Williams. In the couple passes I did see him catch, he didn’t look like Andre Williams and was pretty natural as far as I could tell.

Round Grade: 3-4

Games watched: Mississippi St 2016, Utah 2016, Michigan St 2016, West Virginia 2016, Wyoming 2016

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