The Broncos got a second-round steal in North Carolina running back Javonte Williams, and he could be Denver’s lead back right away.
The Denver Broncos drafted one of the top running backs in North Carolina’s Javonte Williams. He is a strong, physical, downhill runner who can excel in an inside zone run style scheme and also a gap-style pull run game. Williams has patient vision paired with very good anticipation while accelerating through the trenches, the guy has incredible collision balance who runs behind his pads.
Melvin Gordon is the main back for the Broncos, but should he be? The NFL Network have him as the 24th running back out of 32 of the starting running backs in the league. Gordon almost reached 1,000 yards last season, but also put the ball on the ground four times last season and twice in one game; against the Kansas City Chiefs. Is that enough to run him out of town? Not sure, but the Broncos backfield combined for only 52 catches for 272 yards in 2020 and also allowed 19 sacks from only 5 in 2019. So, Gordon isn’t necessarily holding the Broncos back, but he isn’t making them more dynamic, either. Running backs aren’t known for their longevity, and with Williams and Gordon having a similar skill set, it’s Williams’s job to take.
On top of Williams’s running style, he can pass protect and also catch the ball from the backfield. The only question is how the Broncos can use him in their offense. Gordon said himself that he prefers an inside zone run style, but last year the Broncos showed that they are much more.
After Week 11, Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur made it clear that he wants the offense to be a gap and pull run style as well as inside zone. “We still run a considerable amount of zone plays. I think there ‘s a place for all of it.”
Following a lead blocker, a running back has an opportunity to bounce it outside or make a quick cut inside to slide through the defense.
These are the types of blocks that Williams excels behind the most. We’ve watched him follow his blockers to no end and last year he showed that he can go either way to gain yards.
Williams can follow the play to the outside, but also has the skillset to see the opportunity to cut back.
There aren’t a lot of things that set the Broncos backfield apart, but if Williams can continue to gain yards after contact like he did in college, this attribute can be the part of his game that will take him to the next tier among running backs. Per Pro Football Focus, in college, Williams forced 76 missed tackles as a runner in 2020 (the highest total in the country), and nine more as a receiver.
Shurmur may alternate touches early on between Gordon and Williams while running the same plays for each, and the result will help him decide on who is the guy moving forward. With Williams physicality in pass blocking, he could ultimately win over that starting job earlier than expected.