It’s no secret that Travis Etienne and Najee Harris will probably be the first two running backs selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, but I think Javonte Williams could easily be just as good if not better than both of those guys. At pick 36, running back is 100% in play for the Falcons.
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones’ lives are just easier with a bell-cow back carrying the rock, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Atlanta double-dipped on a guy like Kenneth Gainwell with a compensation pick. His teammate Michael Carter showed out at the Senior Bowl, but Williams is still the lead dog for RB3. There is a LOT of talent in the trenches and at safety that will be available at the 36th pick, so what would make Javonte Williams worth the pick if Atlanta can’t trade down?
Look up “mean as hell” on Google — Javonte Williams will be the first result. Williams is a bowling ball at 5’10 and 220, but he is by no means a lumbering back. Tony Pauline of TDN expects his 40-time to clock in at 4.51. He’s not a true burner, but he is very agile and has above-average speed, especially for a running back of his size. His vision is also a plus; he works well between the tackles and has enough agility to make guys miss in the open field.
On top of all of that, he is a smooth route runner with soft hands. All of these traits were on display when he went wild against Miami, rushing for 236 yards and three scores while averaging 10.3 YPC. I’m not particularly eager to scout the box score, but 1,140 rushing yards, 19 rushing TDs, and 7.3 YPA, along with 12.2 yards per catch with no fumbles over 11 games, is downright dominant.
Javonte Williams' contact balance, low center of gravity, agility, and overall fantastic athleticism is one of the many reasons why I love his RB draft class so much. pic.twitter.com/ObNSQRjr3j
— Sam (@samcrnic) January 31, 2021
— Brennan Sokowoski (@SokoFFB) January 29, 2021
better bring it against Javonte Williams pic.twitter.com/MNa6HINe51
— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) January 29, 2021
Javonte Williams doesn't even have the ball and he's still out there flattening people. pic.twitter.com/erIhU1SPvT
— Daniel Valente (@StatsGuyDaniel) January 30, 2021
Williams is as clean of a prospect as you will find. He’s not perfect, but he’s one of the most polished and complete prospects in the entire draft. He runs angry, and delivering those punishing blows may take a toll on his body, but that’s a stupid nitpick. Drafting him should be accompanied by the preconceived notion that the Falcons don’t need more than four years out of Williams. Personally, that’s all I can come up with. He doesn’t have a ton of miles on his legs, which makes him even more appealing.
Javonte Williams is a true do-it-all bell-cow running back. He isn’t as athletic or big as Najee Harris or as elusive as Etienne, but I think he possesses both guys’ best traits without some of the negatives. If Harris and Etienne go in the first round or within the first three picks of the second round, Javonte Williams becomes an easy pick for Atlanta. Even with so much talent at EDGE and interior defensive and offensive line in this range, Williams is an offense-transforming back that is well worth selecting with the 36th pick.