2021 NFL Draft: Denver Broncos select UNC running back Javonte Williams

It is now official. Javonte Williams was drafted with the third pick in the second round, 35th overall by the Denver Broncos .

The former University of North Carolina Tar Heel and 2020 Pro Football Focus first team All-American has achieved the dream that he started working for at the age of five. Not bad for a kid who considered giving up football entirely prior to his senior year of high school. The position switch from linebacker to running back changed all of that. Williams is now a professional football player.

North Carolina coaches kept Williams from leaving the state. He saw playing time as a freshman that resulted in 43 carries for 224 yards and five touchdowns. He also had eight receptions for 58 yards. He started once during his sophomore season, but he still managed to rush for 933 yards and five touchdowns on 166 carries, while also catching 17 passes for 176 yards and a score.

Williams finished his UNC football career with 2,297 rushing yards for 29 touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards per attempt. He also had 50 career receptions for 539 yards and four touchdowns. He achieved these numbers in two years while splitting reps with fellow (future) 2021 draftee Michael Carter. Williams was named second-team Associated Press All-American and second team All-ACC as a junior, despite starting only once in 11 contests. Some analysts have him rated as the top running back in the draft. 

What does he mean for the Broncos ? NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein compares him to Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt, as he commented on nfl.com:

Big, broad bully back who runs with an exciting blend of animosity and feel as a future every-down starter in the league. With just 366 carries under his collegiate belt, Williams hasn’t seen much tread come off the tires, but teams might speculate that his running style could lead to some in-season wear and tear. He’s a terror behind his pads, creating yardage by battering and discarding tackle attempts.

He sees the front fairly well and has above-average hips and the creativity to add to his rush total with more than just power. He lacks run-away speed for the long touchdowns but runs with above-average vision and contact balance to succeed at a high rate near the goal line. He tends to trust the blocking scheme and keep his runs on track but can recalibrate when needed. Williams is best-suited to gap, power and inside zone rather than flowing wide, where he lacks one-cut quickness. He will drop passes from time to time but has the route-running and protection toughness to take over as a three-down RB1 fairly early in his career.”

The future looks bright for the former Tar Heel standout, much like it does for the newly-revamped Denver Broncos backfield.

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