Will the Pittsburgh Steelers draft a running back early in the 2021 NFL Draft? Odds are good that they will, and they might even be the team to select the first overall running back this year. In the mix to be the running back the Steelers choose this year must be North Carolina’s Javonte Williams and he seems to be moving up to the top of his position group on the rankings of several major media draftniks to boot.
With Williams getting some of the media spotlight this week from draftnik Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network and specifically with him saying that the North Carolina running back would be a perfect fit for the Steelers, it’s time to take a deeper look at his 2020 explosive plays runs of 10 yards or longer from the 2020 season. They are contextualized for you below along with some observations.
As you can see in the table of data below, Williams registered 40 total runs in 2020 that resulted in gains of 10 yards or longer, and a whopping 14 of those resulted in gains of 20 yards or longer, which is quite impressive.
As part of the contextualization process of these 40 runs by Williams, I charted where first contact (FC), if any, took place in addition to how many broken tackles (BT) he had on each run. Williams, without a doubt, did run behind a great offensive line in 2020. On the 40 runs from 2020 that I charted, Williams’ first contact happened 9.05 yards past the line of scrimmage, on average. That’s quite an amazing number but still not as big as the number posted last season by Alabama running back Najee Harris on his explosive runs.
As for the broken tackles on these 40 contextualized runs by Williams in 2020, 11 of them in total included him breakings his first tackle 3 or less yards from the line of scrimmage. 14 in total included him breaking his first tackle 5 or less yards from the line of scrimmage.
Williams showed on several of these runs that he can earn yards after first contact and especially before he got out of the box area. He can run inside and outside, and his contact balance is fantastic. They ran a lot of power in these 40 running plays so there’s that. In short, he’s used to working behind pullers. He has particularly good vision and a nice burst. He makes decisions quickly, can bounce outside when needed and has enough speed to win the edge and turn the corner.
The fact that Williams registered such a high percentage of explosives runs of 20 yards or longer last season was exciting to see. He had 25 such runs during his three years at North Carolina and 14 of those are contextualized and linked to in this post.
Williams’ explosive run tape, as you would probably expect, is very impressive. His is probably more exciting than that of Harris’ and that’s because he broke a lot more tackles and produced a lot more explosive runs.
If you get a chance, make sure to watch as many of these 40 runs linked below that you can.