After appearing in just four games in the 2020 season for the Kansas Jayhawks, running back, Pooka Williams Jr. opted out of the remainder of the college football season due to COVID-19 concerns. An undersized runner (5’10”, 170 lbs) who led the Jayhawks in rushing yards in both 2018 and 2019, Williams Jr. has electric top-end speed. Any running back with his athletic upside is worth monitoring throughout the NFL draft process, and fantasy managers need to take note of his name as a potential value come draft day.
In 26 career games for Kansas, Pooka Williams Jr. compiled 2,382 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns at an average of just under six yards per carry. He is one of only two Kansas Jayhawks running backs to rush for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. He was named first-team All-Big 12 in both 2018 and 2019 and was also named the 2018 Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.
Film Review: Strengths and Weaknesses
The burst that Pooka Williams Jr. has is apparent as soon as you put on any game film. His speed and acceleration through the hole are as good as you can hope for in a player. He has quick feet and a remarkable ability to stop and start again on a dime. As a receiver, he has flashed his deep speed at times and shown he can catch passes in a downfield role in addition to the screen game and around the line of scrimmage. Williams Jr. has a very nice juke move in his arsenal that pairs fantastically with his lethal speed.
As fun as his speed is to watch on tape, his strength leaves a bit to be desired. He struggles as an inside runner through contact and does not break many tackles. Despite not being the strongest runner, his speed will give him plenty of chances to run past defenders. In a change of pace role on a team with an established offensive line, Williams Jr. has the opportunity to return fantasy value for savvy managers who draft him late.
Pro Day Performance
40 Yard Dash: 4.38
Short Shuttle: 4.26
The Cincinnati Bengals added Pooka Williams Jr. as an undrafted free agent following the 2021 NFL Draft.
The path to fantasy relevance is not an easy one for Pooka Williams Jr. After not being selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, he landed in a situation behind an established starter in Joe Mixon. That said, there are not many running backs on the roster that have Williams elite speed. If the Bengals can find a way to deploy him as a weapon all over the field rather than in a standard running back role he can provide value in PPR formats. For the time being, Williams Jr. is a gamble you can take at the very end of rookie drafts as a true dart throw.
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