NAME: James “Boobie” Williams
SCHOOL: Washington State
POSITION: Running Back
CLASS: RS Junior
JERSEY: No. 32
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
Before we get into the player, you should really get to know James Williams' story and everything he's had to overcome and accomplish in order to get to this point in his career. After all, learning the character of a prospect is part of the evaluation process as well. Williams has the kind of back story for instance that makes you want to root for him all the more and even makes watching his film a little more enjoyable. But don't take my word for it, watch his highlights for yourself and see what you think.
If I were to describe James Williams in one word it would be resilient. If you watched his back story or any of his game film, then his resiliency is something that should've stuck out to you. He's not someone who is going to give up whether it's on or off the football field and it's one of the things that make him such an intriguing prospect. He never gives up on a play and is constantly spinning, cutting, and churning his feet for extra yards.
Williams brings more to the table then just his resiliency though. He shows good decisiveness and vision as a runner on film, especially in those “big boy” goal line/short yardage situations. He has outstanding footwork, maybe the best of any RB in this draft class. He also plays with really good contact balance for a back his size. He's not a tackle breaker by any means, but he's able to absorb some pretty good shots and still maintain his feet. No need to worry about is ball security either. He's only had three fumbles in 525 career touches.
The best thing about Williams' skill set is probably his receiving ability. He's had two 70+ catch seasons in his collegiate career, which is almost unheard of for a RB. He naturally catches the ball out of backfield on swing passes, screens, and middle releases for check downs. He has the ability to adjust to passes thrown outside his frame and has shown the ability to consistently high point overthrown balls. He also has surprising leaping ability for a back his size.
James Williams' long speed appears to be pretty solid, but I'd be surprised if he runs faster than a 4.5 40 yard dash. His lack of straight-line speed kind of limits his explosiveness, but his superb footwork and light feet still helps him pick up some chunk yardage.
Williams' size might be his biggest negative. This will likely keep him from being an every down back in the NFL and force him into the role of a change of pace/third-down RB. His size also limits him in pass protection. He shows the technique and willingness on tape in pass protection, but his small stature causes him to get overpowered at times.
Although he is able to absorb a lot of big hits while maintaining his balance, if a defender does get their hands on him he goes down pretty easily. He just doesn't have the size or strength to throw off defenders or drive through contact. He's not frail by any means and has a well muscled frame, but it's probably already maxed out.
If the Dallas Cowboys are looking for a running back with the same kind of skill set as New England Patriots RB James White, then James Williams is their man. Williams is the kind of new age flex RB coming into prominence in the league. The type of player who cannot only contribute as a runner, but catch the ball out of the backfield or be split out like a receiver in the passing game as well.
Although I think James White is the best comparison for James Williams, I actually believe the latter could end up being the better of the two. His superior footwork and light feet will make him better as both a runner and as receiver in the passing game. But, it's his competitive toughness and contact balance that I believe really sets him apart.
Overall, James Williams is an electric player who would fit in real well with the Dallas Cowboys. He could not only serve as a nice complement/change of pace back to Ezekiel Elliott, but also contribute as a slot receiver after developing a better route tree and refining his route running. His versatility could make him an interesting Day 3 prospect, but I could see him improve his draft stock at the NFL Combine and end up slipping into the late Day 2 territory.