RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina* (5’10”, 220)

Background:

Carried the ball 43 times as a freshman, picking up 224 yards and five touchdowns (5.2) before stepping into a major role the following year, a season in which he put together a line of 166-933-5 (5.6), adding seventeen catches as well. Touches were almost exactly the same as a junior, but his efficiency improved dramatically, rushing 157 times for 1,140 yards and 19 touchdowns (7.3) and adding 25-305-3 (12.2) receiving before declaring for the draft.

Positives:

Made a substantial leap in efficiency this past season. Very well-built running back who looks the part of a primary ballcarrier at the pro level; has a very strong, thick lower body. Muscular frame carries over into his style of play; sort of a throwback power-runner who can wear down defenses. Contact balance is very impressive; able to shrug off glancing blows and stay upright through hitters who don’t wrap. Almost never brought down by the first player who has a shot at him. Easily runs through smaller defenders at the second level, with a tough, physical style of play. Tends to fall forward at the end of runs. Navigates through congestion well; able to find a crease, squeeze through tight spaces, and pick up solid gains. Good vision to improvise and make something out of nothing when the play direction is clogged, recognizing cutback lanes and redirecting quickly. Shows consistent ball security technique, consistently switching hands to carry toward the sideline. Very effective around the goal line. Could make an impact sooner than some of the other top backs because he’s already comfortable in blitz pickup. Alert player who shuffles into the appropriate position and engages from his seat with his arms extended, showing plus contact balance to absorb opponents.

Negatives:

Predominantly carried the ball out of shotgun formations. Has a tendency to run a little bit higher than you’d like between the tackles. More of a chunk runner than a home-run hitter in terms of his top-end speed. Wasn’t used as a receiver too often, and his overall usage was limited to swing routes and the occasional improvisation.

Summary:

Might be the most physical, powerful runner in this year’s class, combining a tough, gritty approach with outstanding contact balance; it’s fun to watch opponents bouncing off of him, and works in a stiff-arm powerful enough to make any old-school football fan smile. May not be quite as fast or explosive as some of the other top backs, nor as versatile a receiving option, but he should be able to come in and carry the load early in his pro career, something which should have him off the board somewhere in the second round or so.

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