Is Washington State running back James Williams a fit with the Chicago Bears?
The Chicago Bears have spent the majority of their pre-draft time talking to and visiting with every running back prospect in this years draft. That makes James Williams no different than the majority of the other backs we have covered so far.
James Williams met with the Chicago Bears at the 2019 NFL combine. Williams is an interesting case in that he carried the ball 316 times but caught the ball 220 times. A true versatile back. What does he bring to the table and how could he fit the Chicago Bears?
Williams is the definition of a pass catching back. He is more comfortable catching out of the backfield than he is running between the tackles. James Williams has soft hands, and good understanding to sit in zones, stay open and haul in passes.
As a running back, he is obviously good with the ball in his hands. Short area quickness and quick cuts allow James Williams to squirt into the open field and create yards after the catch. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranked 1st in yards after first contact, and was 8th in elusive rating.
Williams is undersized coming in at under 200 pounds. This show can in a variety of areas of his game. To start, he is apprehensive between the tackles. His body will not consistently be able to take big hits, and he knows it, choosing to break runs outside despite better lanes inside.
Williams can get labeled with questionable vision because of his lack of willingness between the tackles. He is not looked at as a strong pass protector either. With his size and understanding of his limitations he is limited to role player status more than a featured back.
The fact that he is not a complete all-around back is going to limit his ceiling in the NFL and take him out of round three conversations. However, it should also ensure that he is a middle round option for the Bears.
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On one hand, James Williams is an instant upgrade over Taquan Mizzell. Williams can get on the field right away in his role as a pass catcher and special teamer. The question is can he extend his role beyond that, and what is the value if he cannot?
Tarik Cohen only had 20 rushes straight up the middle between the center and guard. He averaged 2.8 yards per carry on those attempts. He is not getting a bigger workload up the gut. Mike Davis is going to cut into the power runs Jordan Howard had but will not cut into all of them.
The Bears need a pass catching back in a big way. However, they also want one who can help between the tackles here and there. If Williams fell into the sixth or seventh round he will be worth a flyer. Before, there may be more versatile backs overall.