James Williams – Running Back
School: Washington State University
Class: Redshirt Junior
Weight: 205 lbs
James Williams NFL Draft Profile
Top 3 Player Traits
In an offense like Washington State’s, the running backs play a different role. While they do carry the ball, they have an increased role in the backfield by adding an additional receiver. If you were tasked to find a better receiving back in this year’s draft, I do not believe you would find anyone better than James Washington.
He has such sure hands and really focuses on the reception. You do not see him getting ahead of himself often and missing the catch. He really adds an additional layer, especially on 3rd down.
Williams also does a great job on the ground, particularly finding the hole and surveying the field for defenders. He follows his blocks well and really makes the most of his touches. There were several times this season where Williams looked like he was in a video game when the ball was in his hands. When it looks like the play is dead and there is no chance, he makes a move and finds another way.
It cannot be stated enough that Williams had a tremendous number of yards this season after he was already touched. Many of those times, he would change course and make a second effort at turning nothing into something. Take a look at this play.
Williams bounced outside for a second attempt. Usually, this would be a loss, but Williams fights hard and uses his athleticism to make a big play. He really puts it all together.
3 Player Traits in Need of Improvement
Because of the versatile nature of the Wazzu offense, and the traits that Williams possesses, he does not block a whole lot in the passing game. While there isn’t a whole lot on his ability this year, pass blocking would be something to address in pro-days and team interviews. Possibly some drills in pass blocking.
Doing Too Much
There is no doubt Williams is athletic. Sometimes he does have to rely on that athleticism to make a big play or just something out of nothing. Some teams might see that as a risk of injury with his willingness to make several big moves in each game. Sometimes in the pros, less is more. One of the big things being hurdling. He cleared the defender on this play.
But, that can potentially lead to a big injury. It may have worked out, but some coaches prefer that their backs stay grounded as much a possible.
Every Down Back?
Williams split time with Max Borghi this season and Jamal Morrow last season, which is less about who is better and more about the fact that they can both contribute to the offensive scheme. Many NFL teams have a scheme that relies on more than one back, but will he be able to transition taking the majority of the carries? That is something that some front offices might wonder.
Top 3 NFL Team Fits
The Eagles saw a lot of injuries in the backfield this year and kept having to find new players to be the back. With his hands and ability, this would be great for both parties. Williams would be on a championship caliber team and the Eagles would land a quality dual-threat back that can make a difference on any play.
Kansas City Chiefs
This would be an interesting situation for Williams as well. The Chiefs need to address the defense in this draft, but with losing Kareem Hunt this season for off the field issues, it might open a window for them to draft Williams in the mid-late rounds this year. It would not surprise us to see James Williams be the Philip Lindsay of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Heading into 2019, the Ravens leading rusher is Gus Edwards, which only rushed for 718 yards and did not contribute much as a threat as a receiver. By adding James Williams to the mix in this backfield, it would add a huge playmaker to help give Lamar Jackson more options.
Last season proved that Jackson needs more playmakers around him to take the pressure off of him to make the majority of plays, lowering the risk of injury. Williams would make a great addition to the backfield and immediately make a difference.