Avery Williams was one of college football’s most dynamic special teams players during his tenure at Boise State. His play in college propelled the Atlanta Falcons used a fifth-round selection on him during the 2021 NFL Draft.
The kicker is that Williams was a defensive back in college and hadn’t played running back since high school at JSerra Catholic in California. However, regardless of the position, Williams is one of the most athletic players on the field.
That's why head coach Arthur Smith and the rest of the Falcons coaching staff felt like it was best to move Williams to the backfield this season.
"I was all for it," Williams said. "The staff understands and I understand that my gift to the team starts on special teams. That will always be a priority. That's how I'm going to make an impact and help us win games. However I can maximize my skill set and help the team even more, that's a bonus. Making the switch to offense, I took no issue with that. I love it. I embrace it. I'm pretty excited about it."
Atlanta has had success with converting players to the running back position. Just last season, Cordarrelle Patterson, who had spent his entire career at wide receiver, switched over to the backfield and became the team's best runner, setting team-highs in rushing attempts, rushing yards and touchdowns.
The ability Williams possesses is a secret weapon that the Falcons hope to ignite an offense that is lacking multiple superstar playmakers.
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"He's an extremely hard worker," running backs coach Michael Pitre said. "I don't know you'll find anyone who puts more into the scheme and knowing what all 11 guys are doing. He's coachable, wanting to know how to do it better instead of asking if it was good enough. His transition has been going pretty well."
The traits he has in his toolbox as a returner, including lethal breakaway speed and elusive jukes, can help him evade defenders and hit open holes in the running game.
Even though he is changing side of the ball, that does not mean he is giving up special teams. In fact, this just allows the second-year player to make more plays for the Falcons.
"Vision, ball security, elusiveness, all those things will help him on the offensive side," special teams coach Marquice Williams said. "He also has an edge to him from being a defender. He also knows how defenders want to attack ball carriers and he can use that against the opposition.”
During team workouts, a comment was overheard in the Falcons locker room that perfectly sums up the position switch.
"Somehow, Avery looks way faster on offense."
If that is the case, watch out.