Kyren Williams Draft Profile
Out of all the running backs I have watched thus far, Kyren Williams might be the most fun. Despite being 5’9 and less than 200 lbs., he might be the strongest back in this year’s draft. The Notre Dame powerhouse is going to be a phenomenal third-down back at the next level. I don’t think he’ll be a 20+ carry per game type of guy, but he is a player that will be on the field in the most critical moments. This comparison could leave a bad taste in people’s mouths, but his play style reminds me of Ray Rice. This has nothing to do with him as a person off the field; I am talking about what he does on the field. His low center of gravity, ability to change direction, and contact balance are very similar to Rice’s. Teams that I believe could put Williams in a position to be one of the best dual-threat running backs in the NFL are the Buccaneers, Vikings, and Cardinals. Williams will be a day two pick that could end up being one of the best third-down backs in the NFL.
When I say that Williams has the potential to be one of the best third-down backs in the NFL, I don’t mean it in a disrespectful way. He is special as a short distance runner, as a receiver out of the backfield, and in pass protection. Due to his low center of gravity, he is a phenomenal short-distance back who can surge his way through tacklers and past the first down marker. Play callers can get creative with Williams; he is a legitimate route-runner out of the backfield and in the slot. Linebackers aren’t quick enough to match up with him. My favorite thing about watching Williams play is what he does in pass protection. Williams is one of the best blockers out of the backfield that I’ve ever seen come out of college. Whether it be a 6’5 defensive lineman, 240 lb. linebacker, or defensive back off the blitz, Williams is never afraid to impose his will. He will put his shoulder in between that rusher’s shoulder pads and penetrate their soul; there is a sense of fearlessness when watching Williams play. I brought it up earlier when talking about his power, but Williams’ low center of gravity is also helpful when it comes to changing directions. He is able to stick one foot in the ground and go, both laterally and downfield. I wouldn’t describe Williams as “fast”, but I do think he is extremely quick and very twitchy. He’s able to make defenders miss in a short area. I believe Williams will be one of the best third-down backs in the NFL whose best case-scenario situation is Austin Ekeler.
One of the most beautiful things about the NFL is that there is a role where every player can be the best version of themself. If put into that role, said player can be a superstar, but if he doesn’t find that role he could end up being considered a bust. Let’s take a look at one of the most polarizing players in the NFL, Deebo Samuel. If he doesn’t land in Kyle Shanahan’s system, he probably isn’t the Deebo Samuel that we all know and love. Now let’s look at Kyren Williams; I believe the role where he can be considered a superstar is as a third-down back. I think he has the potential to be one of the best third-down backs in the NFL; that isn’t a knock on him, it is actually a compliment. With that being said, the price for a third-down back isn’t as high as it is for an every-down back. For that reason, I have a third-round grade on him. The volatility of the running back position has made it very difficult for running backs to be drafted in the first round nowadays unless they are being used like Najee Harris on every single down. At the next level, I believe Williams will be an elite playmaker, but I believe his draft position will fall due to how he’s going to be used.
Contact Balance 9.5/10
Lateral Speed and Change of Direction 7/8
Receiving Threat 5.75/6
Long Speed 3/5
Pass Protection 5/5
Final Rating: 85
Pro Comparison: Austin Ekeler/Ray Rice
Scheme Fit: Third Down Back
Draft Grade: Third Rounder
Draft Projection: Day Two Pick