Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina Tar Heels
Size: 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds
Age: 20-years-old (4/25/2000)
A North Carolina native, Williams flourished as a two-sport athlete at Wallace-Rose Hill High School. In 2016, he won the Bulldogs a state title in the 4x100 meter relay. Two years later, he helped the varsity football squad secure their fourth-straight state championship. In that contest, he scored a 73-yard touchdown on the game’s first play.
Not bad for a kid who played linebacker until his senior year.
But athletics weren’t Williams’ only focus. He graduated as the school’s valedictorian, earning a 4.6 GPA.
Despite all of that success, he received a startlingly small amount of attention over the recruiting process. However, eventually (after then-coach Larry Fedora witnessed the aforementioned 73-yard score), UNC offered him a scholarship. And the local kid has continued to make better than good.
Pros: Head-shaking contact balance; an aggressive runner who doesn’t just break tackles but busts them; strikingly elusive
(Per PFF, Williams recorded the most forced missed tackles at the highest rate among any college running back in the last 7 years)
Cons: Sufficient but not eye-popping long speed; never commanded a full workload in college
The Big Picture
In possession of a build perfectly suited for the position, Williams’ low center of gravity in tandem with a relentless running style makes him an absolute chore to take down. He’s got undeniable power, but pushing the pile isn’t the 20-year-old’s only skill. He’s also a remarkably versatile talent whose instincts are evident via his footwork and elusiveness, all of which continually help him evade tacklers, get to the next level, and rack up YAC.
The only part of Williams’ game that doesn’t “wow” is his long speed. Recording a 4.58 40-yard-dash time at UNC’s Pro Day, Williams is neither a burner nor a plodder.
His overall athletic profile, however, cannot be understated. In fact, PFF credited him with the highest rushing grade in a single season (95.9) since the analytics group began covering college players.
Given the level of competition he’s faced and the fact that he’s existed in a timeshare for the bulk of his career means there might be a slight adjustment period for Williams. But make no mistake, this is a kid with a do-it-all skill set who can absolutely thrive as a featured back in the NFL. And, frankly, the fact that he shared touches with Michael Carter in college also means there’s much more left in the tank.
I don’t know if it happens in September or October (landing spot is, obviously, key), but Williams will be fantasy relevant in 2021.
NFL Comp: Nick Chubb at his ceiling. David Montgomery at his floor.
With Kenyan Drake off to Las Vegas, the Cardinals are in need of an RB1. While Williams isn’t as speedy as Drake, he could bring a much-needed toughness to Arizona’s backfield.
Some might say he’s not enough of a compliment to Chase Edmonds, but based on the Cards’ backfield efficiency numbers (using Next Gen Stats’ EFF metric, Drake was inside the league’s 20 least-efficient RBs last year despite facing a light front on nearly 48 percent of his carries) a compliment is not the answer.
Were Williams to land in Glendale, he’d be in line for 15+ touches per contest … and an early season impact would become entirely likely.
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