Is BYU’s Jamaal Williams draft stock on the rise? 2017 NFL Draft Profile

Jamaal Williams will most assuredly get drafted in the 2017 NFL draft, which is welcome news for Cougar faithful who have only seen nine alumni drafted in the last decade (with only four of those still playing in the league).

Outlook:  Jamaal Williams is one of the most accomplished running backs in the history of BYU football.  Yet despite his accomplishments and charisma, the 6-foot-0 212 pound back was only projected to slide in under-the-radar as a mid-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft as recently as just a few short months ago. That’s because the 2017 NFL running back class is one of the deepest and strongest classes ever.  High profile backs Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, and Leonard Fournette were projected to push Williams down the draft board, so rather than being a solid second or third round pick, it seemed Williams would slip to late third or early fourth round.  However, with a solid senior bowl week, a respectable NFL combine, and a fantastic Pro Day. Williams is projected by many to be a second or third round pick.

Senior Bowl:  Williams was named the top practice player at running back during the week and finished the bowl game with a team-high eight carries for 29 yards (3.6 avg), to go along with two receptions for nine yards, a tackle on the opening kickoff, and another one on an interception return.  He spent time meeting with the Chicago Bears during the week.

NFL Combine: ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds (which was 17th for running backs), 7.25 in the 3 cone drill (10th), and 4.53 in the 20 yard shuffle (14th).  He also finished seventh among running backs with a broad jump of 123 inches, had a 30-inch vertical leap (23rd), and did not participate in the bench press.  While at the combine he met with the Detroit Lions, and San Diego Chargers

BYU Pro Day: ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, did 18 reps on the bench, and jumped 33 inches in the vertical jump.

What experts are saying/Projections:

“Jamaal Williams is a talented running back who deserves more attention from the NFL draft community.“ – Jon Dove, With the First Pick

“I’m fascinated by where he might go. You could make the argument that after Fournette and Cook that he might be the third best back in this draft class… I think that Jamaal Williams could be an NFL player for a very long time.” – Eric Galko, Optimum Scouting

“Jamaal Williams is mighty impressive. His lower-body power stands out on film, and he runs incredibly hard. He handles a heavy workload, and is both slippery and fast enough to break away from defenses with his long strides.” – Henry Payne, NFL Mocks

“As a prospect, he has special lower body power, driving through tacklers for extra yards. He’s not just a ‘power’ back, though, as he’s forced a nation-leading 35 missed tackles this season (PFF Premium). That’s nearly six missed tackles forced per game, an absurd rate.” – Connor Rogers, Today’s Pigskin

“Williams is one of the most overlooked RBs in a deep class. He’s a Day 2 talent, but will likely land early on Day 3 due to the depth in the class and lack of exposure.” Jonathan Valencia, BreakingFootball.com

“I think his game translates very well at the next level… I gave him a third-round grade when I studied him on tape, but he will probably go lower than that because of the depth of the running back class.” – Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Media analyst

“Jamaal Williams has the perfect combination of elusiveness and power.  Knows when to cut and when to fight through contact.”  Tyler Brooke, NFL Draft analyst who called Williams the “nation’s most overlooked college running back” and list him as the third best RB in the nation

“It is hard to see Williams falling into the late rounds. Even without top tier athletic ability and him having injury history, Williams is too consistent of a back that a team will not want to snatch him up before day two ends. Even in a stacked running back class, Williams does enough to establish himself among the ten best backs this draft.” – Ben Natan, Bleeding Green Nation

“Williams has only fumbled four times during his career and it is clear why. He carries the ball with perfect technique, switching arms when necessary and covering up when contact is imminent.” – Henry Payne, NFL Mocks

Positives:

  • Has good acceleration in the open field (ran on BYU track team in 2014)
  • Effective going downhill, generates good yardage after contact, keeps his legs moving forward
  • Very good agility and balance
  • Impressive power, breaks a lot of tackles, and falls forward when being tackled
  • Shows patience, doesn’t fumble, is a willing pass blocker
  • Is smart, has tendency to switch ball to sideline arm

Negatives:

  • Suffered a knee injury at the end of 2014, and missed three games in 2016 with injuries
  • Was suspended for 2014 season opener for being on the scene of underage drinking
  • Sat out 2015 due to “personal issues” (reportedly a “dormitory indiscretion”)
  • Wasn’t used much as a receiver, only one career touchdown reception (made in 2012)
  • Needs to work on his pass protection
  • Does not possess home run speed

Biography (BYU Profile):
Hometown: Fontana, California
High School: Summit
Recruitment: 3-stars (recruited by Arizona State, Boise State, Idaho, New Mexico State, Oregon, San Diego State, UCLA, Utah)
NFL Combine measurable: Height: 6’0”; Weight: 212 lbs.; Arm Length 31 1/4”; Hands 10”

YEAR (GP) RUSH YDS RUSH TDS RUSH AVG REC YDS
2012 (13) 775 12 4.67 315
2013 (12) 1233 7 5.68 125
2014 (7) 515 4 4.68 47
2016 (10) 1165 11 5.60 80
Total (42) 3901 34 5.4 567

College Highlights and Awards:

  • BYU career leader rusher (3901 yards) on 682 carries (5.2 YPC), 4 fumbles
  • BYU single game rushing leader (286 yards vs Toledo)
  • BYU freshman records for rushing yards (775), carries (166), and touchdowns (12)
  • 2013 FBS All-Independent Team, Doak Walker Award preseason watch list
  • 2014, 2016 Maxwell Award watch list

Related articles:

To see Algie Brown’s NFL Draft Profile click here

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