Dexter Williams 2019 NFL Draft Profile

Dexter Williams

Overview
Position
: Running back
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 212 pounds
School: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash
: 4.57 seconds
Bench press: 17 reps
Vertical jump: 36 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, 10 inches (tied for best among running backs)
Three-cone drill: 7.00 seconds (third-best among running backs)
20-yard shuttle: 4.16 seconds (second-best among running backs)

Dexter Williams 2019 NFL Draft Profile

As a high school senior, Dexter Williams helped West Orange in the Orlando, FL area achieve some big things. That year, the team went 11-1 which was the best record in program history. He also helped them win their first-ever playoff game, scoring three touchdowns in a win over Timber Creek in the Class 8A state playoffs. Naturally, Williams attracted quite a bit of interest from major FBS programs. Rated a top-100 prospect nationally by ESPN and 247Sports as well as the 12th-best running back by Rivals, Williams decided to embark on his college career at Notre Dame.

Playing time was hard to come by early on. He saw action in just seven games as a true freshman even though he did register his first career touchdown run in Week Four against UMass. The following season, he played in every game but it remained mostly in a reserve role. He did flash his potential in a 50-33 win over Syracuse that year when he rushed for 80 yards including a 59-yard touchdown scamper. But he still found himself buried on the Irish depth chart during his third year in South Bend. Though his 9.2 yards per rush led the team among players with at least 35 touches, his 360 yards and four touchdowns were fourth among ND running backs.

With Josh Adams foregoing his senior season, “Juice” finally had his chance to shine in 2018. He made the most of the opportunity, leading the Irish and coming just five yards short of the 1,000-yard mark. He added 13 total touchdowns, including 12 on the ground. One of them was of the historic variety. Early in the third quarter of Notre Dame’s 45-23 triumph over Virginia Tech, Williams unleashed a 97-yard touchdown run which set a new Lane Stadium record.

Strengths

  • will certainly garner a “looks the part” classification from many scouts;
  • a downhill, north-south runner who hits the hole with authority;
  • sees the field really well and seamlessly processes things in front of him;
  • has the patience to trust his blockers in creating running lanes;
  • shows the requisite burst and acceleration to full speed to be effective on the perimeter;
  • has an extra gear at his disposal once he’s past the second level;
  • a home run hitter capable of making big plays when the ball’s in his hands;
  • shows flashes of being able to catch balls out of the backfield;
  • not too much mileage on his legs;
  • loves to compete and plays with a chip on his shoulder.

Weaknesses

  • generally brought down on first contact;
  • narrow base can affect his contact balance at times;
  • needs a lot of work if he’s to become anything better than a liability in pass protection;
  • production in 2018 could be the function of the dominant O-line he played behind;
  • really struggled against Clemson’s NFL-caliber defensive linemen;
  • some off-field red flags including an arrest in 2016 and a suspension to start the 2018 season;
  • possesses only one year of high-level production in college.

NFL Comparison: Bilal Powell

Teams With Need at Position: Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins

Projection: Sixth to seventh round

Bottom Line

In his lone season as Notre Dame’s bell cow back, Williams shined mightily and piqued the interest of teams at the next level. He brings ideal size for the position and showcases impressive burst, vision, and downhill running ability on film. He’s effective at getting the perimeter yet also can react on the run and cut back to the inside if he needs to. And there’s no doubting his big-play potential. What he pulled off in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech is a testament to that.

But there are reasons that Williams could slip into the final few rounds of the draft. He doesn’t exhibit much elusiveness and is generally easy to bring down. His pass-blocking ability is subpar as he too often ducks down to try and knock defenders off their feet rather than square them up. And concerns about character will certainly come up given his arrest for marijuana possession in 2016 and the four-game suspension to begin last season.

Summing it all up, Williams undoubtedly has a chance to contribute in the NFL. While his lack of collegiate experience might preclude him making an immediate impact, there’s certainly potential for him to develop into a starter down the road. Teams in need of a running back will like what they see out of his ability to break big runs. And it’s possible we’re not too far removed from him performing those kinds of exploits in the pros.

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