Two days after Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive captain and All-Pro defensive lineman Cameron Heyward heaped praise on Denver Broncos’ rookie running back Javonte Williams ahead of Sunday’s matchup at Heinz Field, All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt added to the praise for the 2021 second round pick.
Watt, when asked what stands out about Williams ahead of the Week 5 tilt during his Friday media availability, praised the young running back for the power he runs with, along with his ability to break tackles.
“Tough runner,” Watt said, according to video from Steelers.com. “There’s a couple of runs and especially when you play the Ravens in the heat, he had like seven or eight guys try to tackle them and you had like a 40-yard rush. So, I mean, just a guy that’s not going down with the first or second contact. And, like I said earlier, a guy that is able to protect the ball to once he has those extra, extra guys on him. So that’ll be a tough challenge.”
For those that may have missed Williams’ run against the Ravens, here it is.
Williams was a guy I was very high on coming out of North Carolina in the 2021 NFL Draft. He was in the discussion for RB1 for me, right there with Alabama’s Najee Harris, who obviously went on to be selected by the Steelers at No. 24 overall in the first round. Denver ended up trading up to No. 35 overall to grab Williams, pairing the powerful rookie with veteran Melvin Gordon, forming a dangerous 1-2 punch in the Broncos’ backfield.
Through four games, Williams has rushed for 186 yards and a touchdown on 46 carries, adding eight receptions for 50 yards. He does have a fumble lost on the season, but has posted a 71.8 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, which ranks 19th among all running backs in football, one spot behind Gordon at 73.2.
Watt’s praise echos Heyward’s, who stated that Williams reminded him of a former AFC South running back who always gave the Steelers problems.
”That run he had was pretty special,” Heyward said, referring to Williams. “Obviously he’s looking to improve on that. He broke like five tackles…Reminded me of the old Maurice Jones-Drew, just breaking tackles, bouncing off people.”