When a running back is running behind a superstar, like Jamaal Williams was in Green Bay behind Aaron Jones, he has to make the most of every opportunity, and that is exactly what Williams did.
Williams also did one better than that, inking a two-year, $6 million deal with rival Detroit in March. It was a signature move by Williams that reflected how he runs the ball ... with attitude.
I must say that after watching about five minutes of Williams on film in 2020, it became crystal clear that Williams immediately became Detroit's best and most talented running back. The Lions' new brain trust stole one in free agency.
I watched all 184 of Williams' plays in the 2020 season on NFL GamePass.
Oftentimes, backups to superstars somehow seem to get lost in the shuffle, and Williams was one of the ones who slipped through the cracks. It is a sign of good scouting -- and a surefire sign of good decision-making.
Bottom line: I really liked Williams even back in 2019, when I evaluated him in Green Bay (2019: "B" grade). And, if he stays healthy, Williams will be looking at a much richer deal a couple years down the road.
I believe Detroit finally got its full-time, highly-coveted franchise back. Williams is that good. He is not the fastest or the most elusive, but he really wants it. And, that trumps everything else.
Williams is a good fit for Detroit, and Detroit is a good fit for Williams. He can finally showcase he has what it takes, and Detroit needed someone to put an end to that running back-by-committee nonsense.
Detroit signing Jones' understudy is also a double whammy for division rival Green Bay. Not only does Williams give Detroit a serious boost in its running game, but by Green Bay losing Williams, it is going to hurt the Packers, too. He was a significant piece to their puzzle.
Over his career with the Packers, he pounded the rock 500 times, and averaged 4.0 yards per carry. What’s more is he logged 122 catches during his four years in Green Bay, good for a 7.9 yards-per-reception average. He also has returned a few kicks, and can do that too when called upon.
I am excited about Williams. While the average NFL back's career lasts 2.57 years, I believe Williams has a lot more football in him, and he is bringing over that winning feeling, coming from a team that has played in back-to-back NFC Championship Games.
RB Jamaal Williams - 6'0, 201 pounds
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Grade: A- (Blue-chip player and elite)
High-energy, tough and physical, one-cut runner who carries the ball with purpose and attitude. Runs hard. A hyper-battering ram. Persistent. No frills north-south runner, with above-average playing speed, who will slam it up inside the box (inside the tackles), as many times as his number is called upon. Active runner who hits the hole fast, with vision and instincts. Does not waste time. Quick and sudden movements. Brings it.
A lot of his runs are three-five yards and a cloud of dust. He will hit that wall again and again without hesitation. Can burst through an attempted arm tackle, and can explode through the second level (where the linebackers line up), if he gets that far. Good balance once he gets going. Speed builds with momentum. Keeps going until he is stopped. Dishes it out and loves contact. Excels at taking outside pitches and hitting the edge.
He is not a burner and not necessarily a home-run hitter. But, make no mistake, this guy is the workhorse that will keep moving the chains. Shows some emotion, and his confidence oozes out -- lets everyone know it was him. Flashed stiff arm and spin moves, but does not often use them. Legit threat out of the backfield. Legit check-down back. Reliable receiver skills. He is not fancy, but he will get it done. There is no quit in him.
I believe Williams wants nothing more than to prove he is the best back in the NFC North, and I believe that is exactly what we are going to see on gameday.
The game is won 90 percent from the neck up, and there is no substitute for desire.
If it was just about the money, he had other options. But, he wanted that shot to put Detroit on the map, while at the same time letting Green Bay know all about it.
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