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Jamaal Williams Is a Contender in Packers' RB Competition

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Jamaal Williams Is a Contender in Packers' RB Competition

When the Green Bay Packers selected three running backs in the 2017 NFL draft, it was clear they were looking at add competition to the position. And with the solid play of rookie fourth-rounder Jamaal Williams, they seem to have done just that.

From day one, it’s been expected that Williams would have the best chance of pushing for playing time early or even unseating projected starter Ty Montgomery.

At 6-0, 215 pounds, Williams runs hard, and is decisive. He doesn’t do a lot of dancing and even those he runs the 40 in 4.59, he seems to play faster than that. He should be an ideal fit in the Packers scheme and his one-cut style is eerily similar to Ryan Grant, as is his body type.

While the offseason and OTAs are always important for young players, for running backs, training camp is where they make their impression. It’s hard to see how good a back is without pads on and so far, with some nice runs, Williams has turned some heads, enough to get reps with No. 1’s.

Williams has impressed with his ability to run the football. He has also made some nice catches, like this over-the-shoulder reception from Taysom Hill.

However, one of the big reasons Williams is already earning reps with the starters is his ability to pass protect. The rookie from BYU did plenty of it in college and so far in the pro’s, he looks to be solid, maybe even better than Montgomery, who has struggled at times in the 1-on-1 drills.

For most rookies, pass protection is a big hurdle to get over, in order to see the field. If you can’t pass protect, the offense can’t throw the ball as much. That also makes the offense more predictable and in the NFL, predictability is a bad thing. 

So if any rookie was going to earn their way onto the field for the Packers this season, they would first need to prove they can be trusted to protect Aaron Rodgers and so far, Williams is giving the Packers faith.

Mike McCarthy and every head coach or play caller in the NFL wants the so-called three-down back. The guy who can run, catch and block and never has to come out of the game for a certain play.

The advantage of that is being able to go no-huddle and forcing the defense to play as a faster tempo. McCarthy and the Packers love doing that, but it takes a versatile back to be able to do it effectively.

Montgomery certainly has the ability to be that guy. As a former wide receiver, there is no questioning his hands, and he showed last season, he knows how to pound the rock, even between the tackles. The question with Montgomery, is can he pass protect?

The fact that Monty has struggled in that area has opened the door for Williams. It’s one way for the rookie to get onto the field and if he backs up that by continuing to produce with the ball in his hands, then it’s possible that Montgomery's starting job, becomes a timeshare situation rather quickly.



Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (17) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Jersey Al's picture

You did a good job presenting the case as to why this is a possibility. I'd be very surprised if the Packers gave a rookie running back the majority of the snaps, but I could see him getting work on third downs with Monty sliding out to WR. So many offensive possibilities with the versatility of Cobb and Monty...

Chris Peterson's picture

That's a good point. I am really hoping Williams can be a guy that can give the Packers some good production on a few touches a game. But yes you are right about Cobb and Monty. I really hope the Packers utilize him more as a receiver this year. I've always wanted someone like a Theo riddick or Sproles out of the backfield.

RCPackerFan's picture

The versatility is what I love most about this offense. The versatility of Montgomery, Cobb, Bennett, Kendricks creates a lot of possibilities.

I'm hoping McCarthy spent some of the off season getting creative with formations and plays.

RCPackerFan's picture

I was happy when I saw they drafted Williams. I thought he would be a good fit in Green Bay's offense. His running style reminds me a bit of Frank Gore.

I am really looking forward to seeing all 3 of the drafted RB's in the preseason games just to see where they are at and who jumps out. They all bring a little something different so it will be fun to watch.

gr7070's picture

My money is on Aaron Jones being the better RB (of the 2017 draftees and UDFAs). He's the better receiver, the better athlete.

Too many of the pundits are focusing on replacing style than they are replacing production. We don't need An Eddie Lacy to replace Eddie Lacy. We need a talented RB who can replace his production not his style.

In today's NFL we really need a receiving RB and Jones is definitely that kind of back. If Williams show to be as well, great.

MarkinMadison's picture

The weird thing about Lacy is that he was/is a big back who was/probably will be not all that effective in short yardage situations. So when we talk about replacing Lacy I think most people mean his production, some mean what they expected him to be able to do based on his body type (a good chunk of what I mean) and some based upon his running style. When healthy, Eddie is a special runner. His spins and cuts in a body that would wear down defenses were something I'll always appreciate. But the short-yardage production was never really there. So I don't know that the Packers need another Eddie Lacy, but they need to find two or three backs who can check all of the boxes that need to be checked.

Finwiz's picture

My money is on Ty Monty being the best RB.
These rookies won't contribute much this year - if ever. Total crap shoot with RB's these days.

gr7070's picture

I agree on Ty. I was referring to Aaron Jones as becoming the best of the rest and being the primary backup.

I do think he'll be a pretty good RB. Which is doing a lot for a 6th rounder,

Handsback's picture

TC is long and let's see where they are after a couple of pre-season games.

Mojo's picture

I expect Williams and the other RBs to get significant PT in large part because I don't think T-Mo is going to be healthy throughout much of the season.

T-Mo had only 77 carries last year but was scraped off the turf seemingly every third carry ( ok, slight exaggeration - writers prerogative).

I know he's bulked-up a bit (he was already ripped last year anyway). but I don't think that was the problem. Actually I never did find out why he kept going down and miraculously coming back sometime later. just gives me a bad vibe on his durability.

I'm hoping I'm wrong on this because I don't think his YPC last year was a fluke. I don't expect 5.9 yards a carry, but somewhere in the upper 4's is doable. Plus he should be able to catch out of the backfield.

So after all is said and done, I won't be surprised if someone like Williams, who's shown he can take a pounding, ends up with more touches than T-Mo.

Finwiz's picture

Not a chance Williams has more touches this year.

Mojo's picture

Ok, friendly wager, I say someone other than T-Mo has the most carries for GB in the 2017 regular season. If Ty can make it even half-way through the season you'd be in good shape.

Nick Perry's picture

I normally agree with you on things Mojo but not here. I think a RB trains differently than a WR would. With a full winter to not only add a few pounds but to train specifically for the position it will help Montgomery stay on the field and be better equipped to absorb some of the punishment. At the end of the day I still don't think they'll run THAT much more. IMO Montgomery can handle 15 touches running the ball weekly and another 5-8 catching the ball. He's bigger than most RB, the difference has been the training. It will be interesting to watch that's for sure.

Lphill's picture

Williams is the starter of the future , maybe not this year but down the road , he is the most complete back .

Since '61's picture

Until we see the rookie RBs in real NFL games we won't know what we have. We knew that Monty was a good player but we did not know he would be an effective RB until the second half of last season. It will be the same with Williams and the other rookie RBs. If these guys all stay healthy there will be plenty of opportunity for everyone to participate and contribute in this offense. It may take a few games to settle on definitive roles for Monty, Williams, Cobb, but there will be plenty of packages for opposing DCs to deal with, 2 TE sets, 4 and 5 wide, Monty and Williams in the backfield with 2 TEs, etc.
This offense should be able to take and play the way they want all season if they stay healthy. Thanks, Since '61

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

Man I can not wait for the season. I know I say that each year but we have some talent and at least several to fight it out.

PackEyedOptimist's picture

Injuries are impossible to predict, even an "injury history" often means nothing. I'm hoping Monty and Williams end up splitting the carries. Having two good RBs who share carries has many benefits (stay fresher, built in backup in case of injury, etc.). When you watch the tape, Monty and Williams both look like guys who can carry an offense. I'm much less enamored with Jones, but we won't know who's going to really rise to the top until next year, probably.

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