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Broncos Film Room: Why Denver took a chance on David Williams

Andre Simone Avatar
April 30, 2018

With their final pick of their 2018 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected an under the radar prospect in Arkansas running back David Williams.

Williams was a graduate transfer from South Carolina, who had his best season this past year with the Razorbacks.

Seventh-round picks are often priority free agents who an organization will select to avoid having to lose them to other teams in the open market.

Given that he’s a bit of an unknown, we had to go back to the tape, to see why the Broncos prioritized Williams over other well-known commodities with their final pick.


  • Williams is a classic one-cut back who’s a north-south runner. He has the ability to make the first man miss and get downhill, where he can punish defenders. 
  • He has some deceptive wiggle to him and can make guys miss with his jump cut. 

  • The SEC RB is a strong back. He lowers his shoulder and takes on tacklers. Williams almost always gains positive yards and seeks out contact.
  • He has the profile of a red zone and short-yardage back. He scored eight touchdowns in only 117 touches last season. 

  • The Razorback shows promise in pass protection when blocking out the backfield. He benched pressed 21 reps and plays with a good strong base. He’s hard to overpower. 
  • He shows natural hands as a pass catcher in limited touches, he does a good job snatching balls away from his body.

  • He’s a patient runner who runs with good vision. He waits for lanes to open up and hits his hole. He rarely gets stopped for negative yards.

  • He’s well equipped to run in a pro-style offense out of I-formations. He won’t need to adjust to the pros like other spread-oriented backs who are used to running out of the gun or in RPO looks.
  • Williams ran a 4.52 at his pro day and might have better long speed than he showed on tape. He slimmed down to 224 pounds, as opposed to the 230-plus he played at, for his pro day. This is a big part of his appeal and upside. 

  • He wasn’t used much in college and still has lots of tread on his tires.


  • He’s clearly not very agile, looks stiff. His three-cone was completely unimpressive and supports this.
  • He isn’t suited to run stretch runs or outside zones. He needs to be used exclusively as an inside runner. He’s a one-dimensional RB. 
  • He struggles to stay balanced once he gets to the second level, often trips and loses momentum.
  • He was a limited rotational back in college. 
  • He doesn’t have quick feet and looks a bit choppy.
  • Williams isn’t a home-run hitter, he has one gear. He’s never broken a run for more than 35 yards in his college career. 
  • He isn’t a very creative runner and doesn’t have the skills to break runs to the outside. He’s strictly a runner in-between the tackles.
  • Williams needs to work and improve his technique in pass protection, but there’s enough to work with.  

In conclusion

This was the Broncos one pick in which they’re taking a chance on an unproven entity. Instead of taking another more known player they prioritized Williams, clearly targeting him as someone they didn’t want to get to free agency. They clearly see some untapped upside in the kid and you can see why, as he has a lot of nice qualities as an NFL runner who profiles well at the next level.

Worst case scenario, Williams gives Denver a short-yardage back that they’ve been lacking the past few years. Best case scenario, he can play at closer to 220 pounds and be a strong rotational back with more speed than he showed in college, with some decent ability to make defenders miss close to the line. His hands are especially promising and the fact he didn’t get used too much in college bodes well for his ability to have a long career. 

His average yards per carry last season was pretty high, and he showed nicely when he was able to get a decent number of touches. 

Williams is a nice addition to a running back room that was lacking in depth. He and Royce Freeman compliment the two young runners already on the team, who have more speed and receiving ability.


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