Is Pooka Williams a late RB option for Chicago Bears in 2021 NFL draft?

Chicago Bears (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Kansas running back Pooka Williams excelled immediately from the start of his college career, as he was a respected kick returner and saw 161 carries as a true freshman. Khalil Herbert, a 2021 draft prospect transferred from Kansas after failing to separate. After an impressive three-year run at Kansas, the undersized running back decided to enter the NFL draft. The Chicago Bears need depth at running back, and Pooka Williams may be falling into their draft range. Is this a player they should have their eyes on.


Unfortunately, we will not get every player’s measurables at the same time, but Williams had his Pro Day recently. You can see how he tested and his size below.

His speed tested out strong, but his size does put him in a tight spot for the NFL.

However, the biggest questions may be his vertical and bench press. No one expects him to be putting up records on the bench, but to be that small and unable to put up that many reps are concerning. More than that is his vertical. The 40-yard dash looks good, but the initial explosion of the vertical is questionable.

Best Traits to Pooka Williams game

It does not take you long to get the idea that Williams is shifty and fast. Williams is very light on his feet and does a good job working behind the line of scrimmage and selecting the right time to hit his crease.

You can see in the play below against Texas the combination of vision and breakaway speed. He starts outside but is patient and reads into the second level. He picks his time, and he hits the jets and explodes into the second level.

Beyond that, Williams had a 10% target share which is well above average. He was not just catching screens, either. He was running options routes down the field while twisting his body and catching the ball away from his body. He looks promising as a receiver.

Questions for Pooka Williams in the NFL

The question of size is going to follow him. Still, even while he is a smart back who picks his lanes, he also knows his limitations. Often you can see him kicking runs outside because he knows that he cannot hang inside the tackles.

The strength and power show up, and he cannot be trusted in pass pro. Williams has the speed for an outside zone scheme, but maybe scheme dependant and may not have the physical profile to hold up with serious NFL work as it is.

NFL Comparison for Pooka Williams

Looking at his size and measurables, there are only a few successful NFL players. Tarik Cohen and Darren Sproles are the best comparables from a size perspective. The big difference is Sproles put up 23 reps at 225 pounds, and Cohen had 11. Williams had 4.

For that size, Sproles was built and could handle the punishment. Cohen is built stronger than Williams and still cannot handle the inside running.

There is a more realistic chance that he is similar to De’Anthony Thomas, a return specialist, or Garrett Wolfe, who Chicago Bears know very well. He is an exciting college prospect, but you have to question if he has the juice to even get to a Tarik Cohen level of player.

Pooka Williams fit with Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have Tarik Cohen, but he is coming off of an injury. Would they be smart to add depth behind him? Pooka Williams is a player who is unlikely to get drafted until later on day three, so the Bears could be looking at him in the range where they are viewing running backs?

Still, while losing Tarik Cohen hurt, the one game where they lost David Montgomery was worse. It is needed to have that speed, but Cordarelle Patterson can replace Cohen better than Montgomery. It is tough to have a runner who can take a pounding between the tackles and consistently carry the ball inside.

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Williams is very much a Cohen-lite player and a depth replacement for Cohen. Still, that does not  make him a great fit for the Chicago Bears, regardless, of their need for a day three running back.