Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Thoughts on Detroit Lions adding Keiland Williams

Keiland Williams, signed by the Lions Sunday to be their so-called bigger back, has been somewhat of an enigma since he left high school.
He was 5-star recruit coming of high school. Big time. One of the top two or three backs in the nation, according to many recruiting services. His final choices came down to LSU and USC. He was that coveted.
He did some good things at LSU, but lacked consistency. He couldn't beat out Charles Scott - later a sixth-round draft choice of the Eagles - for the running back spot.
Lack of speed probably kept Williams from getting drafted (he ran in the mid-4.6s for NFL scouts in the 40-yard dash).
The theory is that he made the Redskins last year because he reminded Washington coach Mike Shanahan of some of the backs he had in Denver that were relatively unknown, but had surprising success to varying degrees. Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Reuben Droughns, Mike Anderson, Mike Bell, Selvin Young, Peyton Hillis. Bigger, hit-the-hole, one-cut, downhill runners.
A couple of those guys turned out to be great players - Davis and Hillis. Others were basically one-hit wonders. Yet, Gary, Anderson and Droughns did have 1,000 yard seasons for Shanahan.
The Lions would take that one-hit wonder about now...
Williams did compile some decent numbers last season, but they were misleading. His best game statistically was against the Eagles, but he did all his damage long after the game was decided. (Philadelphia opened up a 28-0 lead in that game, Williams scored on a pass to make it 35-14 in the second quarter, and a 32-yard run in the fourth for the final score in a 59-28 rout. Jerome Harrison was the star back that day for the Eagles with 109 yards on 11 carries).
Williams played a more prominent role in a sense the following week in a tight victory over Tennessee, but he averaged less than three yards per carry. Gradually, Williams got less playing time. Ryan Torian became the Redskins feature back.
This is where scouting comes in. Pure speed often means a lot for a back, but there are times with bigger backs, it isn't that much of a factor. LeGarrette Blount comes to mind. although he is considerably bigger than Williams, and was much more productive as a college player.
The Redskins were in the process of trying to make Williams a fullback, while it didn't pan out, it could benefit the Lions if fullback-type skills are necessary in certain situations. Williams also showed pretty good hands last season.
I do think Williams is an NFL player. But how good of one, I'm not sure. What kind of help will he provide on special teams? Can he press the hole for that necessary yard or two in a close game?
It does seem like the Lions were looking for downhill runners out of Shanahan's family tree. Bell, obviously, didn't work out.
We'll see on Keiland Williams


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