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Washington Redskins 2016 Draft Profiles: Jonathan Williams, RB

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2016 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins.

Jonathan Williams, RB
School: Arkansas | Conference: SEC
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 5-11 / 219 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 5th - 6th
NFL Comparison: Thomas Rawls

College Statistics


Player Overview

Jonathan Williams injured his foot in practice before the 2015 football season started, causing him to miss 4-5 months - effectively the remaining games left in his senior year. Despite not being able to actually play, his teammates still elected him a team captain. That should give you an indication of Mr. Williams' character, leadership, and his team's respect for him. Although he could have used his last year of eligibility to return to Arkansas, Williams elected to make the jump to the NFL. Because lower body injuries are a major red flag for running backs, his medicals at the Combine will be a big indicator of draft status. However, given the timing of his injury, there's no reason to think he will miss any time at training camp his rookie year. Another plus is that he shared much of the rushing duties at Arkansas with the higher-profile Alex Collins, so even though he rushed for nearly 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014, he has only 406 career carries over four years - the equivalent of merely one-and-a-half seasons of starting duty.

Jonathan Williams has the thick build of a big, bruising back - listed between 219 and 223 pounds - but has the nimble feet and acceleration of a lighter player. He's versatile - big and powerful enough to thrive between the tackles, quick enough to find the edge and turn the corner, and a capable pass-catcher out of the backfield. Williams isn't elite in any one area, but his well-rounded skillset, size, and heart make him an attractive option for a lot of teams. His foot injury coupled with the success of his teammate Alex Collins caused him to be an overlooked prospect heading in to draft season.

Strengths

  • Quick, dancing feet to position himself in the hole and create shake and shimmy to elude would-be tacklers (forced 44 missed tackles in 2014)
  • Keeps leg churning after contact to chew up extra yards and lowers shoulder to punish defenders
  • Willing and capable in pass protection
  • Has the desired character to put the team first but also earns the respect of his teammates. Arkansas Head Coach Bret Bielema put him in the final snap of Arkansas' game in the Liberty Bowl this season to take a knee and seal the victory versus Kansas State

Weaknesses

  • Played behind big, mauling offensive line at Arkansas that dominated smaller teams
  • Can get "too cute" in the backfield, reversing runs and cutting outside for a loss or no gain when a couple yards are available up the middle. Needs to be more decisive.
  • Foot injury a major red flag - needs to check out medically for teams before he should be considered. Williams was invited to the Senior Bowl and performed in non-contact drills but did not play in the game. He had the screws removed from his foot in December of 2015 and claims to be 100%.

How He Fits on the Redskins

Jonathan Williams is an interesting prospect because his injury caused him to miss the entirety of the most recent season. I think if he had played, he would be among the top running back prospects available in the draft, and I personally believe he's more skilled than teammate Alex Collins. Judging from Williams' statements, his foot is fully healed and he's just working back into football shape at this point. Therefore the fact he didn't play for a year makes him very underrated and a potential steal.

If drafted by the Redskins, Williams would likely work in a committee behind Matt Jones and Chris Thompson - I'm assuming at this point Alfred Morris does not get resigned. His selfless nature, powerful running style, and third-down back capabilities make him a good fit for both a Redskins' committee and Gruden's system. While not an elite athletic specimen, he brings plenty of physical tools to the table, and combined with his heart, leadership, and toughness, should make him an attractive prospect if the Redskins are looking to boost depth at running back in the draft.

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