The end of the 4th Round of the 2017 NFL Draft approached earlier this offseason, and the Green Bay Packers had already selected 4 players. Every one of the 4 new Packers were defenders, but with the 134th pick in the draft, the Packers selected a running back from BYU named Jamaal Williams.
Throughout the offseason, I saw several mock drafts which predicted the Packers going running back as early as round 1. I never really bought into them drafting a running back so high, mainly because they hadn’t done so in the past. I always stuck to my belief that Ted Thompson would hold tight to his philosophy and pick an underrated back when the time was right on day 3 of the draft. Low and behold, Ted stays predictable and grabs Jamall Williams out of BYU late in the 4th round.
It seems to me that every single year a gem of a running back comes strait out of day 3 of the draft, and Williams could be that guy. Let me throw some names at you: Jordan Howard, Jay Ajayi, Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, Lamar Miller. Sound familiar? In order, they were taken in the fourth round or later of the draft from 2016 to 2012. That is a solid list of running backs, so it is not even remotely unheard of for a talented running back to come out of the later rounds.
He is probably best known for being suspended by BYU for violation of its honor code. Normally an honor code violation wouldn’t be such big news, but this honor code violation was for premarital sex. I am fairly certain that NFL teams were not concerned with such behavior, however BYU was not so forgiving. Jamaal Williams left BYU as the all time leading rusher, after leading the team in rushing each of his 4 years on the field. It is worth mentioning that he was able to accomplish this battling injury and off the field “issues” throughout his career.
Williams walked into the building and started right away as a true freshman rushing 166 times for 755 yards and 12 touchdowns. After a sophomore campaign featuring over 1200 rushing yards, Williams saw a major setback in production due to injury and suspension his junior year. He eventually would drop out of school entirely after his junior year, but always intended to return the next year for his senior season. In his final season in 2016, Williams rushed for 1375 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 10 games before injuring his ankle.
Williams stands at 6’0″ 212 pounds. His combine results aren’t overly impressive in my eyes. His numbers featured a 4.59 40 time, 30 inch vertical, 7.25 3 cone drill, and a 4.53 20 yard shuttle. He plays a lot faster on tape than he looks on paper. NFL size coupled with functional speed will allow Williams to be a productive NFL runner.
The first thing I noticed about his game is his tremendous balance. He does not get knocked out of rhythm easily and keeps moving forward constantly getting those extra yards. Solid vision, he sees the lane and bursts through it. Utilizes the spin move and stiff arm well. Outstanding ball security. Physical in pass protection.
Not a great athlete for his size. He wasn’t asked to run many routes at BYU, causing some relative inexperience. Gets impatient when the play needs to develop more. Will have a hard time breaking tackles at the next level. Shows potential in pass protection, but he needs to be coached up.
This is a great positional pick to fill need. I gave the pick a B+ because I had a couple running backs graded higher, most specifically Marlon Mack. While I think Mack fits the Packers offense better, he is a similar back to Ty Montgomery. Jamaal Williams is more of a downhill runner, which the offense needed with the departure of Eddie Lacy and James Starks. The more I watch Williams play, the more I like this pick.
How He Fits in Green Bay
Williams comes into camp with 3 other rookie draft picks. He is the favorite to lock up the number two spot on the depth chart behind Ty Montgomery. When the organization drafted Williams they were probably searching for a replacement to James Starks more than a starting running back. The fact that they waited until day 3 to draft a running back just goes to show their confidence in Montgomery.
If I had to predict how much playing time he would get as a rookie, I would say that I think he will have the second most carries on the team in 2017. Ty Montgomery showed that he is starter quality last season, and with a full offseason at his new position, he should be even better. Durability is a concern with Montgomery, that could be Williams’ ticket to a larger workload. He will have the advantage of working with his college quarterback Taysom Hill who signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent.
Have other thoughts about Jamaal Williams? Like one of the other rookie running backs better? Think the Packers should have gone in a different direction with this pick? Let us know in the comments section, or on twitter @PTTF_Podcast. You can also interact with me directly @TrackOnPack. We’d be happy to hear from you! Go Pack Go!