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Saints Could Bolster RB Position With Free-Agent Darrel Williams

After adding former LSU stars Tyrann Mathieu and Jarvis Landry, New Orleans could eye up another local product to strengthen their running back room.
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The New Orleans Saints have signed two former LSU stars since the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draft. Pro Bowl S Tyrann Mathieu and WR Jarvis Landry deepen two positions of strength for the team. A third LSU product, LB Kwon Alexander, could be brought back to the squad at the right price.

Alexander would bolster the depth of a rather thin linebacker unit. Another position that has a glaring lack of proven depth is at running back.

Yet another former hometown star is still on the free agent market and would check off one of the few remaining areas of need for the Saints.

DARREL WILLIAMS, RB

Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams (31) carries the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals. Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams (31) carries the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals. Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The 27-year-old Williams played collegiately at LSU. Despite 2,113 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns over four years, including 1,151 and nine scores in 2017, he was not selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. Williams signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted rookie.

A native of Marrero, Louisiana, Darrel saw action in just six games as a rookie in 2018. He totaled 57 scrimmage yards on 16 touches and scored once. Damien Williams, no relation, led the Chiefs in rushing during their Super Bowl LIV championship team of 2019. Darrel contributed 141 rushing yards and 167 more as a receiver while scoring four touchdowns.

Damien Williams opted out of the 2020 season because of Covid concerns and was released the following offseason. Darrel's former LSU teammates, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, led Kansas City in rushing during their AFC Championship season of 2020. Darrel Williams contributed 169 yards on the ground and 116 more through the air.

Williams wouldn't get his first career start until a 2021 Divisional Round game against the Cleveland Browns. He’d respond with a career-high 78 rushing yards in a Kansas City victory.

Injuries and ineffectiveness limited Edwards-Helaire in 2021. Darrel Williams stepped up to lead the Chiefs in rushing with 558 yards and six touchdowns. He also added 47 receptions for 452 yards and two scores. All were career high marks. He achieved a career-best 88 rushing yards during a Week 17 game at Cincinnati.

The 5'11" and 219-Lb. Williams does his best work between the tackles. He runs with a low center of gravity and makes decisive cuts into the line. His bruising running style makes him an effective short yardage option. Over a third of his 237 rushing attempts have resulted in a first down or touchdown.

Williams has averaged 3.8 yards per rush in his career, picking up 912 yards on the ground and scoring 10 touchdowns over his four seasons. He's also a capable receiver out of the backfield. He has 83 career receptions for 762 yards and 4 touchdowns.

While not a breakaway threat, Williams is a thumper that consistently moves the chains. He was also a reliable option on check-downs and screens for a Chiefs offense that relies on the pass. Once in open space, he is adept at breaking one-on-one tackles and fights for extra yardage.

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Williams adds another viable option to a New Orleans backfield with depth concerns. Alvin Kamara is the focal point of the Saints offense, but could be facing a league suspension from an offseason arrest in Las Vegas.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams (31) runs against the Denver Broncos. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams (31) runs against the Denver Broncos. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Kamara is 11-year veteran Mark Ingram. The franchise's all-time leading rusher, Ingram is still an effective weapon but can no longer carry the load by himself for an extended period.

Outside of Ingram, undrafted rookie Abram Smith and former undrafted backs Devine Ozigbo and Tony Jones Jr. provide depth. Smith is unproven, while Ozigbo and Jones have combined for just 180 career yards. The Saints have loaded up on offense with the return of WR Michael Thomas and QB Jameis Winston from injuries, drafting of WR Chris Olave and OT Trevor Penning, and signing of WR Jarvis Landry.

Darrel Williams could be another valuable tool in Jameis Winston's arsenal. Most importantly, he provides bona fide backfield production, especially if Kamara is out for a prolonged period. 

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