By Alex Kozora
With the regular season over, our focus has shifted to the offseason. For the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on prospects. Some the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at. Other top players that will be off the board before the Steelers select. All to make you as prepared for the 2014 NFL Draft as possible.
Our first running back evaluation. Boston College running back Andre Williams.
Andre Williams/RB Boston College: 6’0 227
- Decent size, certainly not tiny and has muscle, big legs
- Downhill runner who doesn’t try to dance
- Consequently, rarely taken down for a loss
- Capable of getting skinny through the hole
- Strong lower body and can run through some arm tackles
- Overall, able to fall forward on contact to gain an extra yard or two
- Extremely productive senior season
- Only one season of carrying the load
- Pretty good amount of starting experience
- Lacks any defining quality
- Rarely flashes much of an initial burst
- Does not have a second gear, one speed runner
- Won’t make many miss in the open field
- Little wiggle
- Will sometimes turn his back to the defender, won’t always lead with shoulder, making it difficult for him to fall forward
- Average pass blocker
- Little use out of the backfield
- Only one season of substantial production
- 28 career starts
- 355/2177/18 rushing line senior season
- 5th most rushing yards in a single season at the FBS level
- Rushed for 200+ yards five times including a season high of 339 vs NC State
- Heisman finalist, finished 4th in the voting
- 2013 Doak Walker Award for nation’s best running back
- First Team AP All-American
- First Team All-ACC
- Missed three games in 2012 due to abdominal injury
- Tiny bit of return work, returned eight kicks his freshman season
- Only 10 career receptions at Boston College
- Did not rush for more than 584 yards or four TDs in any other season
Williams had an amazing senior campaign. But his skillset does not seem to translate to the next level. Granted, I’ll admit I did not watch some of his biggest game statistically but still studied two “good” games (28/149 vs Florida State, 33/166/2 vs Virginia Tech) against better opponents.
The first negative I listed for Williams really says it all. There just isn’t anything special about his game. He’s a little better than a Shonn Greene type plodder but only marginally so. Really just get what is blocked. And the Boston College offensive scheme is Power O and Counter OF heavy, creating large running lanes.
First run against the Hokies. Big hole that lets Williams build up speed but he goes down relatively easy when the DB takes out his legs.
And an example of him turning his body instead of lowering his shoulder. Much less powerful and makes him a bigger target. Goes down easily.
On the whole, Williams does run hard and will lead with his shoulder. But he needs to reinforce that habit.
Occasionally, he will show a burst and make a quick cut. Liked this run against Florida St.
Boston College did run a ton of counters that made it slightly more difficult for Williams to get up to speed. But when I ask myself what he does well, nothing really comes up. Not a quick cutter. Average speed. Tiny bit of wiggle. Sure, he gets downhill but that only gets a back so far. Have to have a special quality to succeed at the next level.
Williams has pigeon-holed himself as just a pure runner. In the two games I watched, he didn’t receiver a single target and rarely was asked to run a route. He failed to catch a single pass his senior season and as noted, just ten catches in college. Four his senior year of high school. Boston College ran a conservative offense but you’d expect at least a few passes see the running back’s way. As an average pass blocker who didn’t do anything out of the backfield, he’s going to struggle to play all three downs.
He isn’t terrible. He isn’t particularly good, either. He’s just there, plugging away. The Steelers will likely look for a running back in the mid rounds but I prefer someone with more upside and a definitive quality. Williams doesn’t fit that bill.
Projection: 4th-5th round
Games Watched: vs Florida St, vs Virginia Tech
Previous Scouting Reports:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Illinois State T/G Josh Aladenoye
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
ILB Shayne Skov
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
Auburn T Greg Robinson
Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman
Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III
Auburn LB Dee Ford
Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
North Dakota State T Billy Turner