Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio shares a sample pre-draft scouting report of Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams, a prospect Matt considered a better contributor for his team than your fantasy team but still worth knowing about when injuries pile up.
19. Darrel Williams, LSU (6-0, 225)
Depth of Talent Score: 74.4 = Reserve: Contributor with limitations in scope and execution.
Williams backed up Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice at LSU. When he earned extended playing time, he performed well. Based on what I’ve seen, there’s a roster spot waiting for him in the NFL.
Williams is a sound zone and ISO runner with a decisive mindset. He effectively reads the leverage of defenders when faced with tight creases, which is not something you often see from a college reserve—even at an SEC school like LSU. In short-yardage, Williams attacks the marker point and lunges when he senses he’s close to the spot as the hole constricts.
Overall, he’s a competent runner from I-formation and single back sets with the quarterback under center. He’s strong enough to carry linebackers for extra yards, shed wraps from indirect contact, and balance-touch when knocked off his stride. His stiff-arm is more a tool of leverage than of power, but his size lends some heft to it.
With a running start, he can push contact at the line of scrimmage further downhill. However, he’s not as powerful as you’d expect for a back his size. He’ll bounce off a glancing blow or pull through a wrap but direct contact and/or a sound hit and wrap combination will put him down.
Williams is nimble enough that he can sidestep a defender in the hole to earn extra yards, and he freezes defenders with a strong jab step that’s quicker than it appears. When a defense completely sells out to a side, Williams is also quick enough to make them pay with a reversal of field.
The opposition underrates Williams’ burst. He’ll earn positive yardage on runs to the outside when the play is reasonably blocked, and the combination of his quick feet and burst often earns Williams big gains on the inside zone play. Although he lacks that final gear, he can get on top of linebackers and safeties in the box and do it faster than they anticipate.
Despite a career as a backup, Williams has earned 365 touches and he’s only fumbled the ball once. He carries the ball with either arm, but the elbow could be a little tighter.
The potential is there for Williams to develop into a good NFL pass protector. He’ll earn a square position and he has enough lateral movement to work the edges with a rusher. He even anticipates smaller defenders trying to redirect inside after cutting off the edge.
Although he punches at the collision point, Williams uses his forearms more often than his hands and it costs him opportunities to sustain his efforts. He also drops his head into the punch and raises his body from the waist rather than punching with his head up and rolling through the hips.
The difference between the two is that Williams doesn’t see what he’s punching. It slows his ability to move with the opponent who can bounce off, shed, and wrap a ball carrier.
Williams must learn to shoot through his cut blocks and not issue a modified professional wrestling backdrop. There’s not enough violence or suddenness to the backdrop to actually do anything but half-ass shield defenders.
Another reason Williams will likely stick in the NFL is that he can catch the football. He adjusts well to low targets as well as passes over his shoulder. He uses his hands well and makes plays on the move while working away from coverage.
While not an exciting prospect, Williams is a good running back who can deliver steady work as a role player. He’ll be more valuable to his NFL team than your fantasy team, until injuries wreck a depth chart mid-year. At that point, batten down the waiver wire, a bidding storm is on the horizon…
Pre-NFL Draft Fantasy Advice: A potential reserve who could surprise as a contributor with fantasy production if injuries strike the depth chart. Draft late in deep formats; monitor from afar in all others.
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