David Igono’s RSP Boiler Room: RB James Williams’ (Washington State) Check-Down Alchemy

Rookie Scouting Portfolio contributor David Igono profiles the satellite skills of Washington State running back James Williams, an NFL Draft prospect who exhibits a lot of James White’s alchemy on the check-down.

One of the most disappointing plays in football very well maybe the check-down. Often times a check-down pass feels like going through the drive-thru at McDonald’s, ordering your meal and then driving off to realize they didn’t give you the sauces you requested or any napkins. That may be extreme, however, the point is that you expected more.

Check downs are a vital part of any offense, even if only as a last ditch effort for a quarterback to avoid a sack. James Williams of Washington State is a running back who routinely moves the chains by turning nothing passes into first downs. The key to his success comes from his ability to consistently make the first man miss. This is a simple skill that can be overlooked due to the lack of a vertical nature of check-down passes.

The first clip demonstrates Williams his ability to run past a defender if the option presents itself.


The next clip illustrates Williams evading a tackler at the point of attack. Note how he is able to set up his move by squaring up just enough to negate the first defender’s angle on him.


When you combine speed and downhill decision making you get the ensuing clip, a fusion of not going to the corner store and being steps ahead of the defense.

The last clip demonstrates Williams “phone booth” ability – avoiding getting tackled with no space to spare.


Williams ability to turn after thought passes into first downs is a valuable asset to an offense. His resourcefulness in space is a strength that forces coverage to not sink too far in their drops and be wary when they have to come up to make the tackle. It may be one slice of his profile, however, Williams may be able to turn his proficiency on check-downs into paychecks at the next level.

For the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), get the 2019  Rookie Scouting Portfolio. If you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2018 RSPs at no additional charge.

Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 each. You can pre-order the 2019 RSP now through December 28 and get a 10 percent discount.

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