Last year at this time, Green Bay was lacking depth at running back behind Ty Montgomery. The Packers waited until day three to pick a running back, and they hit their first two running back selections. Jamaal Williams was the Packers second fourth round pick, while Aaron Jones was Green Bay’s compensatory pick in the fifth round. Both were great selections and will be a tremendous duo for years to come.
Williams ran for 556 yards, but had a yards per carry average of just 3.6. In games in which he had at least 10 carries, he averaged less than four yards per carry in seven of the eight games. He did catch 25 passes for 262 yards and a pair of scores, which will help get him in the game as well. He faired better at home than on the road, rushing for 255 yards and averaging 4.1 yards per carry, while only rushing for 3.3 on the road. Granted, most of that is due to his great game against Tampa Bay, where he 113 yards on 21 carries. The BYU product was No. 5 in rushing yards for a rookie this season.
Coming out of college, Williams was last in yards created per attempt from the shotgun, yards created per attempt when facing seven or fewer in the box and pass protection execution percentage. Williams has not done great at running, in terms of yards per carry. However, the BYU product has improved each week in pass protection, and excelled in that area down the stretch. His grade from Pro Football Focus of 69.7 ranked 41st at his position.
Aaron Jones showed significant promise when healthy running the ball. He burst onto the scene with a terrific performance against the Cowboys, rushing for 125 yards in the thrilling 35-31 win in October. Two weeks later, Jones was the best player on the field for the Packers against the New Orleans Saints, rushing for 131 yards on just 17 carries in the 26-17 loss. Unfortunately, injuries slowed him down and he never had more than five carries in a single game the rest of the season. He did have one of the biggest highlights of the season when his lone carry against Tampa Bay went for the game-winning score in overtime.
Jones ran for 448 yards on the season, averaging a terrific 5.5 yards per carry. He did only have nine catches for 22 yards, so what he does well, Williams struggles at and vice versa. That is what makes complement each other so well. His overall grade on the year was 82.7, which was very solid. His 448 yards finished No. 8 in rookie rushing. His senior year at college was impressive, rushing for 7.7 yards per carry, so he kept his strong running going. Coming out of college, he had 28 breakaway runs (runs of at least 15 yards) and had the third highest breakaway percentage in the 2018 Draft class.
However, coming out of college, one of his knocks was his injuries. Jones was a great runner when healthy, but he had some injuries, which knocked him down a bit. Unfortunately, we saw that this season, as he only had at least 10 carries in four games this season and only 19 combined carries in his final six games. Another knock on him so far in the NFL has been his pass blocking.
From these numbers, it is clear that these two could complement each other really well, like I have mentioned. I believe Jones should be the starter with Ty Montgomery as the backup with Williams as the third down back. He has done well at pass protection and catching passes out of the backfield, which would make perfect for that role. One thing is for certain…..it is good not having to worry about the running back position this offseason.——————
Jonathon Zenk is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He is a huge Packers fan, and a graduate of The University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. You can follow Jonathon on Twitter at @jzenk42