Is really fluid in the hips and balanced with his footwork, allowing him to sharply get in and out of his breaks and consistently make the first man miss. Exhibits good vision locating holes from the backside and is really violent/sudden in his ability to cleanly change directions, square his shoulders and get up the field quickly. He showcases second gear to his game, accelerating quickly toward daylight and once he gets into the open field he typically doesn't get caught.
Needs to do a better job securing the football, as he has a tendency to let the ball get away from his body once he breaks into daylight. And although he does showcase the power/toughness and overall sixth sense to drop his pad level and run much lower down near the red zone, he does run a bit too upright inside and can be tripped up too easily and lose balance when trying to press the line of scrimmage. However, he's very natural catching the football out of the backfield, adjusts well to the throw and quickly is able to snap his head around reach the second level.
Was a different runner during the 2010 season due to a hamstring injury, which really took away from his initial burst and effectiveness getting into the open field. However, he ran as patient and more physical than at any point during his career, displaying a lower pad level, pumping his legs through contact and was a lot tougher to wrap up on and bring down. Wasn't the same type of violent, slashing type runner he was the year before, but maybe it was good for him to learn to run behind his pads more as RS sophomore. Will need to check out medically and have a strong Combine in order to improve his draft stock.
Impression: Had a miserable 2010 season due to injuries. However, he's a violent, natural runner with good fluidity and balance in tight areas. In my view would have been better off to stay in school and improve draft stock. However, when healthy the guy can be a dynamic back who can grind out the tough yards inside. Could end up being one of the real steals of the draft this year."
Williams started every game in '09, accumulating nearly 600 snaps. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry and rushed for a total of 1,655 yards, including 21 touchdowns. He also caught 16 passes for 180 yards and another score. Williams finished off his first starting season on a strong note, rushing for 117 yards and two scores in earning MVP honors in the Hokies' Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over Tennessee. Williams was recognized as the ACC Rookie of the Year and earned a first-team role on the all-conference team.
A nagging hamstring injury kept Williams out of four games in 2010 and limited to only half of a fifth game. He was effective when healthy, rushing for 473 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season, but surprised scouts a bit with his decision to enter the draft early coming off a disappointing season and with two years of eligibility remaining.
Williams' vision, acceleration and surprising power should put him in the mix to be one of the first backs selected in the 2011 draft. The team that selects him earlier than the second round, however, is basing a great deal of faith on the premise that Williams, now over the recurring hamstring troubles that robbed him of his burst in 2010, is not simply a one-year wonder.
Inside Running: Lacks bulk but is a surprisingly effective interior runner with burst to the hole, good pad level and leg drive. Good forward lean to generate yards after contact. Bounces off and spins through tackles. Finishes his runs. Good vision for cutback lanes. Among his best assets is his acceleration once gets a crease. Can turn a two-yard run into 20 or 30 yards with only a slight seam.
Outside Running: Good patience, burst off his cut and the speed to be very effective on the stretch play. Can beat the "Mike" linebacker to the edge. Good flexibility and balance to turn the corner while accelerating. Deceptive speed around the edge, killing pursuit angles of defenders who think they have him corralled. Very good acceleration. Gets to top speed quickly and has good elusiveness in the open field. Possesses good, but not elite, breakaway speed.
Breaking Tackles: High-effort runner. Runs with good pad level, making him a more physical back than his moderate size would indicate. Keeps his legs churning and runs with good forward lean. Doesn't present the defender with much more than his shoulders and knees to hit, frequently bouncing off would-be tacklers. Good vision and burst to re-direct and gain extra yardage after contact. Will extend his arm for the stiff-arm, though he can be a bit cavalier with the ball.
Blocking: Improved his toughness and technique in this area as a sophomore, but remains a work in progress. Drops his head on contact too often, providing an adequate initial pop to the defender, but doesn't maintain his base and extend his arms to ride the defender throughout the play.
Receiving: Soft hands and good flexibility to swivel and catch the swing pass without losing speed. Occasionally used on wheel routes in the Tech offense, demonstrating the ability to track the ball over his shoulder. Aware and will work his way back to the quarterback.
Intangibles: Competitive runner who makes many of his best runs after contact. Still has a lot of "tread on his tires" after only playing two years at the FBS level, but struggled with a right hamstring injury for much of the 2010 season. Tweaked the injury in the week leading up to the Orange Bowl against Stanford and was a non-factor in the game, rushing four times for four yards in the Hokies' loss.
Elusiveness: Has a good cutback move to avoid defenders. Possesses plenty of quick movement agility to burst outside and juke opponents in the open field. His elusiveness isn't elite by any means, but it's good enough. Doesn't tend to take many false steps. A good cut and plant runner.
Pass Blocking/Catching: Virginia Tech liked to use Williams on wheel routes. He showed he can run the route fine and has good enough hands. Williams may never be a top option in the pass game, but isn't a liability. He may be as a pass blocker. His technique is routinely flawed. Williams doesn't attack pass rushers enough and lowers his head on contact.
Power: Williams may not be the biggest running back, but he plays with a good amount of power. He doe a real nice job of working through arm tackles. Has a good leg drive when working through the trash. Knows how to mask some of his power deficiency by running with a low pad level.
Speed: Although Williams has such a good short-area burst, he doesn't have the best deep speed. He won't often break away in the open field. Still, his quickness allows him to beat players to the edge without losing speed.
Vision: On stretch plays, Williams displays good patience, allowing the play to develop before cutting and taking off. Sets up his blockers fairly well. Isn't a negative yardage runner who cuts back to try and move forward.
Final Word: If he's drafted into zone scheme, Williams has a chance to be the best running back in this class. That's the same scheme that Virginia Tech ran when 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2009.
It was a surprise to see Williams enter the draft after 2010 with two seasons of eligibility remaining. Williams is no guarantee to be top 50 pick and could have developed into the top running back for the 2012 draft. As it is, some teams will have to wonder about his injury history. He missed four games and part of a fifth due to a hamstring injury. It clearly hampered his running ability, as he finished 2010 with 477 yards and nine touchdowns.
Virginia Tech also has a tendency to produce good college running backs. You have to wonder to some extent how much of a system player Williams is and if he can truly translate to the NFL. But in the right scheme, he should be able to."
Williams has the talent to be a very productive NFL running back.
He was slowed by nagging injuries all season long, and finished with just 477 yards on 110 carries with nine touchdowns. While the 20-year-old may have been best served to stay in school and try to revive his draft stock a bit, he instead opted to test the waters of this year’s draft. There’s no doubting his talent, but Williams has his fair share of other question marks as he takes his game to the next level.
How does his 2011 NFL Draft stock look as the combine draws near?
Ryan Williams’ best attribute may be his field vision. He seems to have the innate ability to see things developing in front of him before they actually happen, and it shows in his running style. He has better speed than you might think, especially for a physical, north-south runner. He runs with a nose for the end zone, and has great strength and balance that allow him to continue to push forward following contact. Williams also has a knack for holding onto the football, as he did not fumble the ball at all during his extremely productive 2009 campaign. He has very good speed and athleticism, but also has the toughness to fight through tackles. While he does typically run with that north-south mentality, he has the vision and speed to get around the edge and make things happen on the outside, as well. His 293 rushing attempts in 2009 was the fifth-most in the nation, which shows he’s capable of being an every-down back and carrying the load offensively. Williams has a reputation as a hard-worker and a high-character guy, and has what it takes to eventually develop into a leader as a pro.
As mentioned above, injuries derailed his production as a sophomore, which raises injury concerns. He may need to add some weight and strength to his 202-pound frame in order to take the hits that come with being a featured back at the NFL level. He’s shown potential as a receiver out of the backfield, but wasn’t often utilized in that role at Virginia Tech. He redshirted in order to improve upon his pass protection skills, but there is still much to be desired in that area of his game. While he did miss four games with injuries this past season, his productivity as a whole was lacking, and he didn’t show the same explosiveness that he did during his freshman season. Williams may struggle to truly separate himself from other prospects at the combine, considering he won’t blow anybody away with his physical traits.
This draft class doesn’t include the strongest crop of running backs, so there is still a very good chance for Williams to be taken fairly high on potential alone. His brilliant freshman season may help get him selected as high as the second round, provided he can show that he’s healthy enough to contribute soon in the NFL. His maturity and intangibles should be impressive to NFL teams during the interview process, as well. Given the two-back style offenses and the number of injuries we’re seeing everywhere in today’s NFL, there is always a need for depth at the position. Williams’ production in the past speaks for itself, and he’s likely to be drafted anywhere between the second and fourth rounds of this draft.
NFL Player Comparison: DeAngelo Williams"
Negatives: Only 202 pounds, would like to see him add 10-15 pounds to take the pounding of the NFL... Won't blow anyone away with his measurables... Still needs to improve his pass blocking, redshirted his freshman year to focus on pass protection... Would like to see him featured in the passing game more... Has had a few lingering injures, but nothing that has kept him out of a regular season game... Numbers could dip this year with the return of Darren Evans."
Weaknesses: Will never be a great blocker, even though he gives decent effort. Has had some injury-bug issues. Will not be an elite middle runner, and will go down on hard contact by bigger LBs.
Projection: Should contend for the 1st running back selected, and will be either a mid-late first-round pick, or an early 2nd rounder."
Unfortunately for Williams, this year Evans is back and it is he who is spending some time on the sidelines with an injury. Williams started the 2010 campaign off by rushing for three touchdowns in the first three games, but was injured in that contest and missed the next four games…and counting. He should be back by the end of the year since the hamstring injury does not appear to be that serious, but the lack of playing time is putting a damper on his draft status.
Heading into the year Williams was probably one of the top four or five draft eligible running backs, but others are passing him by while NFL teams start to wonder if he can build off of his freshman campaign or if he will develop into a player who struggles with injuries. His 3.0 yards per carry this season will not get him drafted very high and right now he would be wise to return to the Hokies for another year."
Pros: Anyone who watched Virginia Tech football last season can tell you one thing for sure: running back Ryan Williams can flat out play. Williams rumbled for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns on his way to setting the Virginia Tech single-season rushing record. Words like durable, dependable, scoring machine, versatile and turnover-free all accurately describe the red-shirt freshman’s performance. You want consistency? The Hokie matched an ACC record with ten 100-yard rushing games. How about stamina and conditioning? The ACC Rookie of the Year started all 13 games, played in 559 snaps and carried the pigskin 292 times. Not just a workman-like runner, the New York (state) native is a big play waiting to happen, possessing long speed (runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.4 range) and athleticism (36.5” vertical jump). Combined with a strong and solid frame at 5’10” and 210-plus pounds, Williams is packed with NFL potential. He is able to complement his fleetness of foot with acceleration, elusiveness, the ability to change directions without losing momentum, lateral agility and a quick-decision, north-south running style. One of the reasons why the first-year running back seemed to get better as the season wore on is the fact he is an intelligent runner who expanded on his game with lessons learned from earlier in the season. While he is not afraid of contact, Williams understands when to pick his battles; he knows when to truck a defender and when to avoid the big hit. The phenom is a demon in the open field and the moment he gets into the secondary he is one cut or juke from a long touchdown run. While not used consistently as a pass catcher, Williams has flashed ability as a receiver coming out of the backfield—he has long arms and catches the ball with his hands away from his body. The multi-talented runner is capable of executing every rushing play imaginable—from smash-mouth, between-the-tackles runs, to stretch plays designed to go outside. Williams has excellent bounce in his step and it allows him to almost float along the gridiron effortlessly.
Cons: While there isn’t much about his game that we don’t like, with just one year of experience at the college level, Williams has room for improvement. He has a bad habit of swinging the arm that he is holding the ball with when trying to build up movement and accelerate through his cuts. Although ball security wasn’t an issue in 2009—he did not fumble last year—if Williams doesn’t learn to keep the ball high and tight at all times, he will become prone to strip tackles at the next level. That won’t be tolerated. Even though he didn’t miss any games, Williams did suffer a pre-season ankle injury in 2009, which he re-aggravated during the season. He was later pulled from the Chick-fil-A Bowl in the third quarter of Tech’s victory over Tennessee with a left ankle sprain. As a precautionary measure, Williams was held out the Hokies’ 2010 spring game with what was labeled a bruised knee. The All-ACC performer has excellent definition, but could add some weight and muscle to his extremities. Doing so would not only make him a more physical runner, but also better prepare his body to withstand the punishment inherent to playing running back in the NFL. Williams also has to improve his balance, as he has a tendency to get knocked off his center of gravity. As impressive is he is all-around, the Virginia Tech product does fall a bit short of the NFL prototype in terms of size and speed.
Our View: After starting tailback Darren Evans was lost for the season with a pre-season injury, many wondered if the Hokies’ rushing attack would take a step back. Enter Williams…and the rest is history as he seamlessly stepped in as Tech’s feature back and focal point of their offense. What is special about Williams is that he has athletic skills and instincts that cannot be taught or coached—he has all the tools to develop into a lead horse in the NFL. Yes, he has flaws in both his game and body, but they are easily correctable with proper training and some tough NFL coaching. Williams will be taught to eliminate the swinging motion with his ball hand when running. His problems with balance, concerns about his long-term durability and his ability to fight through contact can all be alleviated by adding about 10-12 pounds of muscle in his arms and legs. If the record-setting runner can add some weight and build on the success of his red-shirt freshman year, he is a lock for the top half of the first round of next year’s draft should he declare (he will have two years of eligibility remaining following the 2010 season). In fact, with a big season Williams has a chance to crack the top 10 and be the top running back in the 2011 draft class. There are big expectations for the Hokies in 2010 and how Williams performs under the spotlight will also play into his evaluation. Moreover, if senior signal caller Tyrod Taylor continues to improve on his game, it will only benefit Williams. Look for an All-American type season and a potential Heisman run for this Hokie."
He is a finisher whose competitiveness stands out on tape. The big question — and what could still push him out of school early despite his lack of production — is whether he will be able to stay healthy, similar to Cadillac Williams coming out of Auburn."
Ryan Williams may very well be the most dangerous Running Back in the entire Class. He has an excellent initial Burst to the Line, and his powerfull Core allows him to run with exceptional Fluidity, amazing Lateral Agility, and absolutely explosive Lateral Velocity. He runs with tremendous Vision, and Navigates with outstanding skill.
He's does need work as a Blocker, but he's already a dangerous Receiver.
In my efforts to organize RB's by their styles, I've invented the terms "Smashers", "Slashers", + "Thrashers" as what I hope will be easy references, respectively, to Power Backs, 3rd Down Backs, and Hybrids. "Tail Back" and "Half Back" are used too interchangeably, and in any case, a 3rd term is needed, as there are 3 distinct types.
Ryan Williams is what I call a Thrasher, as he's equally deadly both between the Tackles and beyond them.
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