The Green Bay Packers looked to bolster their Running Back depth chart this offseason. After Ty Montgomery, they didn’t have much depth or consistency, so they drafted three players in the 2017 NFL Draft to bolster the position. Here’s a look at how those three players may be able to contribute this season (Note: analysis of each player was taken from my post-draft coverage of each pick):
Jamaal Williams, RB. BYU – 4th Round
Analysis: Williams led the Cougars in rushing all four seasons at BYU. He has great size (6’0″ 212lbs) and can overpower defenders. He’s a decisive runner who will locate the hole and hit it fast. He will drag defenders to gain extra yards and should be able to contribute in the goal line package.
At times, Williams will miss open running lanes, and he doesn’t possess the athleticism to avoid defenders. He will have to improve his vision to make an impact in the NFL, but does possess the build to be the physical back behind Ty Montgomery.
Aaron Jones, RB. UTEP – 5th Round
Analysis: Jones possesses a compact frame (5’9″ 208lbs), but runs physically between the tackles. On tape you will see him finishing runs through defenders and fighting for the extra yards. He has good burst to get through holes and good long speed. It is rare to see him get caught by defenders from behind.
He was not used as a receiver out of the backfield often in college, and will have to learn to be a NFL route runner and how to catch the ball with his hands. He was overused in college and accumulated quite a few injuries, plus had an arrest for drunk driving before the draft. Jones has a great chance to be a physical runner between the tackles with enough speed and quickness to make him dangerous on 1st and 2nd down, but he’ll have to prove himself as a blocker to see the field in passing situations.
Devante Mays, RB. Utah State – 7th Round
Analysis: Mays is built like a truck at 5’11” 230lbs. He is a hard-nosed runner who finishes with his pads moving forward and defenders being dragged backwards. He demonstrates patience in finding the hole, and has decent speed to get to the edge when needed. Will be a force at the goal line.
A leg injury cost him most of the 2016 season, so you have to rely on his tape from 2015. Can be too patient at times, bordering on tentative. Will need to be coached to be decisive in finding hole in zone blocking concept. Did not show much ability in the pass game.
Aaron Jones is my favorite pick of this bunch because he has the highest potential. He was considered among the best Running Backs in the entire draft in terms of athleticism, and has much more home run potential than either Williams or Mays. His compact frame reminds me a little of Maurice Jones-Drew, but he doesn’t have any of MJD’s receiving skills at this points.
Jamaal Williams is most likely to be the number two Running Back behind Ty Montgomery. Williams is not a flashy player in terms of speed or strength, but he does everything pretty well. He didn’t run a great 40 time, but his tape shows him running away from defenders. He didn’t bench the most, but his tape shows him running through tackles and finishing runs moving forward. He has the most experience of the group, and his ability to read holes and make quick decisions will probably make him a favorite of the coaching staff.
Mays is an absolute bull, and will rely on his physicality to make him a pro player. He could win a spot if he can prove that he can be the true goal line and short-yardage back.
All three players will need to prove they can pass protect to see the field consistently, but it’s very likely that two of these three will be on the active roster, with the other heading to the Practice Squad. Their development will be a key factor in the Packers offense being more balanced, and therefore more successful in 2017.
Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig