The Seahawks' offseason has yet to technically begin and it's already been a mess. But then again, it was always going to be. With little cap space, precious few draft picks, and many holes to fill, chaos was going to reign. Of course, Russell Wilson decided to pour gasoline on the fire by publicizing his frustrations toward the organization, making general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll's difficult offseason that much harder.
Alas, Seattle seems determined to move ahead, essentially choosing to ignore - at least publicly - the Wilson-led drama and focus instead on how to improve their roster with limited resources. One area in need of improvement is the running back position. Chris Carson is set to become a free agent and while the market could send Carson back to Seattle, it doesn't seem likely he'll return. Backup Carlos Hyde will also be a free agent.
This leaves the Seahawks with Rashaad Penny, DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer, and Alex Collins as their committee of backs for the moment. There is some serious upside in this group and Seattle could roll into camp with it as is, add an undrafted free agent or two, and be just fine. But we know how important balance is to Carroll and thus, the running back position is an important one.
This leads to the question: should the Seahawks trust their current group of running backs to carry the load? Well, actually no. And this is where North Carolina running back Javonte Williams comes into play.
Williams is the ideal size for a Pete Carroll running back, standing at 5-foot-11 and weighing in at 220 pounds. This stocky build should make for a durable running back at the next level. Williams runs angry and seeks out contact on the boundary. He also shows incredible balance, allowing him to push the pile and stay on his feet after attempted arm tackles.
In fact, Williams broke 75 tackles on 157 rushing attempts, breaking the Pro Football Focus record on broken tackles per attempt (0.48). He also earned a 95.9 grade from PFF—an incredibly rare, elite grade.
It's easy to think of a running back with this description and immediately assume that he is just a power back. And while that is the carrying tool of Williams, he's more than a good enough athlete to back it up. Williams shows good speed, agility, and vision. He catches the ball well and his compact size gives him the chance to be an impactful pass protector when needed.
Williams's acceleration can surprise some and that, combined with his speed, gives him the potential to bust pursuit angles and hit the home run play.
Williams's track record of success isn't bad but it's not as deep as some of the more prolific runners in the class. Williams would test well at the combine but was unlikely to "wow" scouts with his 40 time or 3-cone drill. His agility will leave some to wonder if he can create yards on his own.
Fit in Seattle
Javonte Williams checks all the boxes for the Seahawks. He's explosive, powerful, runs as hard as Chris Carson, and has elite contact balance from which to build off the rest of his game. If Williams maxes out his ceiling, his best comp would be Marshawn Lynch—a name that should excite Seahawks fans.
But even if he comes up short of that lofty goal, he's a more than adequate replacement for Chris Carson. As a bonus, Williams never had the starting job to himself at North Carolina and won't turn 21 years old until late April, giving Williams a lot of tread left in his tires.
With all the other needs they have, spending a second-round pick on Williams might seem like a luxury Seattle can't afford. But running the ball makes the rest of the team better and not relying on Rashaad Penny to carry the load is not a luxury that can be ignored. Williams may be the best running back in this class and he might be available for the team with its first pick. Value like that may be too difficult to ignore.