While Alabama’s Najee Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne have continually been mentioned as potential first-round picks, another running back could hear his name called during the first day of the draft. NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero writes that North Carolina’s Javonte Williams could end up sneaking into the first round of the upcoming draft.
In an era where teams seem to reset their running back depth chart every few years, it’d be a bit of a surprise if three running backs end up getting selected in the first round; we’ve only seen two first-round running backs over the past two years (Josh Jacobs (No. 24, 2019) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (No. 32, 2020)). Still, Williams has the talent to warrant that lofty draft stock.
As Pelissero notes, Williams’ strength should be an asset in the NFL (with the reporter citing this giant run against Miami). The running back is more than a bruiser, however; his pro day numbers (including a 4.55-second 40 and a 36-inch vertical jump) showcase his athleticism. Williams also showed improved pass-catching ability throughout his collegiate career, culminating in a 2020 campaign where he hauled in 25 receptions.
So where could the running back land? Pelissero points to the Steelers are a potential landing spot. Pittsburgh has continually been mentioned as a suitor for Harris, but it’s uncertain if the running back will fall all the way to No. 24. If the top running back is off the board, the team could end up favoring Williams over someone like Etienne.
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