This season has been a roller coaster for Utah senior running back Joe Williams. Everyone knows the story, after a lackluster start to the season he retired, only to return after four games and a rash of injuries to Utah’s other running backs. Williams has been spectacular in the three games since his return, totaling 683 yards rushing 7.2 yards per carry and 6 touchdowns. His success has provided a boost not only to Utah’s season, but also to Williams’ career options as NFL scouts are beginning to take notice. The question begs, does Joe Williams have a future in the NFL?
Williams has been running inspired the past three weeks. His performances against both UCLA and Washington opened some eyes, as both are defenses with future NFL players on them. He runs a 4.35 40 yard dash, which is definitely enticing to NFL teams. The ability to run between the tackles as well as use his speed to get to the edge are both traits NFL scouts like to see.
Despite his recent performances and positive attributes, there are concerns. At 5-11, 205 lbs. one of the knocks on Williams is some think he is not big enough to be an every down back at the next level. NFL Draft analyst, Chad Reuter said he “lacks elite agility and struggles to keep his shoulders square.”
The biggest concern for NFL teams however, is likely his commitment to the game. After quitting football earlier this year, many teams are likely to be hesitant on using a draft pick on someone who wasn’t sure he wanted to play football just a few weeks ago. One report indicated his decision to retire earlier this season would be a disqualifying event, meaning he would not even be on the team’s draft board.
Williams’ commitment to football aside, he has the athletic ability to play at the next level, of that there is no question. His past three games have shown NFL scouts he has the ability and toughness to compete at a high level. If Williams wants to pursue a future at the NFL level, he will need to finish the season with the same passion and determination he has shown since returning to the team. At this point, there are enough questions he might not get drafted, but he can answer them in the final stretch of the season. The past three games have drawn the interest of the NFL, the next three games could determine his future.