Can the second-year back rebound from a dismal rookie campaign?
Within the span of one season, highly-celebrated sixth-round pick Dexter Williams has seen his stock tumble to the depths of now being an afterthought with little to no chance of making the opening day roster.
Entering training camp, the Notre Dame product finds himself in an uphill battle to either earn a spot as the fifth running back behind Aaron Jones, Jamaal Willaims, A.J. Dillon and Tyler Ervin or fight for a job on the practice squad — and even that is far from a lock with UDFAs Patrick Taylor and Damarea Crockett both hoping to stick around as developmental talent.
Those who are familiar with Williams’ college exploits under the watchful eyes of Touchdown Jesus can attest to the young baller’s trademark burst, which made him virtually impossible to stop once he exploded past the opposition’s second level.
But beyond his breakaway speed, the 5’11”, 212-pound ball carrier also showcased the ability to cut plays inside and find gaping holes to run through, as well flashing the muscle to break tackles.
In his breakout senior year, the Florida native rushed for 955 yards and 12 touchdowns despite starting only eight games.
During the pre-draft process, Williams backed up his production by recording a remarkable 36-inch vertical and 7.00 three-cone time, along with running a solid 4.57 in the 40-yard dash.
Overall, the aspiring pro seemed to check off all the necessary boxes heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, with the exception of his off-field concerns stemming from a four-game suspension for marijuana possession.
The fact that the Packers were able to secure this type of athlete in the sixth round seemed like a real coup at the time. At first blush, Williams looked like the perfect fit for Matt LaFleur’s outside zone running scheme, with his dynamic cutting ability and tantalizing burst.
So, where did it all go wrong?
From the beginning, Williams never seemed comfortable operating in his new offense. Along with displaying hesitancy in hitting the hole, the ex-Golden Domer tested LaFluer’s patience in the preseason by dropping catchable balls and floundering as a pass blocker.
The rookie’s inability to gain the trust of his head coach resulted in Williams being afforded a meager 10 snaps during the regular season.
In spite of his multiple displays of ineptitude, No. 22 did offer Cheeseheads glimpses of his immense physical tools in Green Bay’s 28-26 preseason victory over the Texans.
In that contest, Williams exhibited serious juice on his 15 touches that saw him use his acceleration to gain 80 total yards behind a third-string offensive line.
We may not have seen the last of the 23 year-old if he can replicate that kind of performance in training camp, as well as make strides as a blocker.
Still, his best hope of contributing in any form or fashion in the upcoming year probably hinges on one of the top four backs getting injured at some point.
The odds are clearly stacked against Williams. But the natural ability is there for him to put an uninspiring rookie campaign in the rearview mirror.
There’s no doubt he’s put in the hard work. It’s now time to show and prove.——————
When ~Reverend~ Ralph Mancini is not tackling hard news in New York City, he enjoys analyzing his favorite sports team, the Green Bay Packers. You can follow him on twitter at ReverendRalph.