When you’re in the mood for a scouting report and you take a look at The Loop Sports’ Bears archives (and you definitely should), one thing immediately sticks out. Out of the nine players our staff has profiled thus far, five are for prospects at the running back position.
We’ve taken a look at the skilled successor of a top-two pick at Penn State, an uber-talented but injury-prone pool jumper from Oklahoma, a one-time Heisman finalist out of Stanford, a tough to tackle Matt Nagy scheme fit from Iowa State, and an intriguing Division-II sleeper all the way from Slippery Rock.
Our staff is intent on driving home the point that the Bears need a running back, and that they will take one relatively early in the draft.
There is one potential draft pick at RB, however, that is conspicuously absent from that list, and he probably shouldn’t be. He appears to be an ideal committee back for the Nagy offense who has stated publicly that Chicago has shown serious interest.
His name is Trayveon Williams, he attended Texas A&M, and his tape suggests that he could bring an multifaceted to Soldier Field in 2019.
He’s a fearless and outstanding blocker. This is not the most important trait for a running back, but it’s what stood out to me first on Williams’s film. He’s 5’8″, but somebody forgot to let him know, as he will go head to head with any blitzer in the country. Not only does he have the guts to be an excellent blocker, but he also exhibits perfect technique. Williams squares himself up with the blitzer, keeps his head up, and punches his hands into the defender’s chest. This was a real asset for the Aggies during his career, especially against some terrifying SEC defenses.
He uses good speed and acceleration to get through the hole, around edge and past the secondary. Williams’ 4.51 40-yard dash is fine, but it doesn’t quite tell the story of how fast he can be in open space. Williams routinely beat defensive ends to the sideline on tosses and outside zones, as well as safeties who didn’t take a perfect angle. And when the hole is there on an inside run, he will burst through it quicker than most, immediately taking himself to the second level.
He finishes his runs. Once Williams accelerates into a defender, he will keep his feet churning and pick up a couple of extra yards. This could bring a bit of an element of surprise to his early NFL career, because tacklers aren’t going to expect it from a diminutive back. This went a long way towards his impressive numbers in college football’s toughest and most physical conference.
He has solid hands and can create after the catch. Williams has been a solid check down option and has experience running swings and screens, but the shiftiness makes his YAC ability something to behold. He’s not running anybody over or breaking any ankles – his moves are more subtle and less flashy – but Williams is very tough to bring down in the open field.
His intangibles are reportedly excellent. Everything I’ve read about Williams has said that he’s a hard worker, a great teammate and a great person. That will likely come with a non-inflated ego, which is significant for somebody who is used to being the unquestioned feature back but will probably have to split carries wherever he goes.
Getting to the second level without an immediate hole can be an issue. Williams struggled a bit on inside runs that were not very well-blocked, for two reasons. The first is a function of his size; at 5’8″, he’s not going to break any tackles near the line of scrimmage. But it might come as a surprise that he isn’t likely to juke anybody to compensate for a missed block either. His lateral cuts don’t really show up in a crowded box, and he didn’t try to reverse field much either. It seemed like he was too tentative in attacking the line of scrimmage and he went down too easily when he couldn’t find an opening.
He didn’t show much on tape as a downfield receiver. The Aggies had Williams run a couple of wheel routes and seam routes but they didn’t throw it much, if at all. He’s not going to make any contested catches, and if he doesn’t develop greater route-running abilities it could be an issue for Matt Nagy’s passing attack.
Williams is a fairly perfect back for the committee that Nagy is trying to establish. There’s Mike Davis, who thrives in tight spaces and fits fantastically in Nagy’s scheme but doesn’t make explosive plays. There’s Tarik Cohen, the Human Joystick who is best used in a gadget RB/WR hybrid role and is impossible to guard one-on-one. And there’s Williams, the dynamic runner who will make plays in the open field, pass protect incredibly well, and bring a proven track record of production in the SEC that is impossible to ignore.
When you watch Williams glide downfield and make defenders miss at the second level, it’s impossible not to see a miniature Matt Forte on your screen.
I would draft Williams as early as Round Two, but undersized running backs have a history of being selected lower than they should be. It’s very realistic to image Williams remaining on the board until Ryan Pace is on the clock, and if he is, he should be a Chicago Bear.
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