Kyren Williams
Kyren Williams

Kyren Williams

  • RB Fighting Irish
  • Junior
  • #--
  • 5'9"
  • 195lbs
  • 08/26/2000
  • Prospect
  • IA Independents

2021 Season

RUSH

1002

TD

14

YPC

4.912

YDS

359

Top Traits

Passing Down Skills

He'll play multiple contracts off of this skill set alone.

Passing Down Skills

Kyren Williams

Williams is an accomplished receiver between his time at the high school level as a wide receiver recruit and 77 receptions across the 2020 and 2021 seasons. He’s got soft hands and was asked to run plenty of routes from plenty of alignments, including Texas and flat routes out of the backfield, shallow crossers and ins as a slot or split receiver, and then as an implementation in the screen game. Williams will have little issue staying on the field on third down when you also account for his work in pass protection—he’s one of the most cerebral and effective pass protection backs in recent memory. 

Versatility

Third down role is obvious but he's got upside in other areas, too.

Versatility

Kyren Williams

Take your pick; he can do a ton. I love the fact that Notre Dame afforded him some reps as a slot receiver and he did very well in those instances to use free releases and free access to attack space and accelerate away from leverage. Passing downs are where he’s strongest. I like him more in zone concepts than in gap/power and lead situations, given he’s not the kind of body I’d typically advocate to run up inside interior gaps with a head of steam. 

Elusiveness

There's more than a little wiggle to work with here.

Elusiveness

Kyren Williams

Slippery. He’s quick to react and feel penetration on his initial press out of the mesh point and does well to escape the grasp by any means necessary—be it on a lateral step, a spin, a head fake, or flushing out the back door. He’ll get popped when trying to string too many plays together as the suddenness to get back up to top speed quickly and break pursuit isn’t at a supreme level but you can’t help but appreciate the effort he puts forth here to avoid negative plays. 

Prospect Summary

Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams is an all-around running back who should provide his NFL team with plenty of value on all three downs at the next level. Williams’ best skills may ironically come on passing downs—he’s a former wide receiver at the high school level and those talents are quite evident in watching him as a pass-catcher. But Williams’ best trait overall may well be his work in pass protection, a skill that isn’t the primary role of his position but can be a major factor in early NFL impact and will boost his value as an every-down player. Williams is perhaps the most impressive back in pass protection I’ve watched in several seasons. His work in scan protections shows his excellent vision to identify pressure opportunities while also making rapid decisions to pivot and attack with physicality to help stonewall blitzers. All of this work comes out of “want to” and intelligence, as Williams doesn’t carry the kind of frame that you would typically associate with this kind of praise. As a ball-carrier, Williams has done well to make the most out of sub-par conditions in 2021 and has run tough behind a modest offensive line that lost a lot of its traditional luster this past season amid struggles to win the point of attack and an offense that didn’t always create strain to loosen up opposing defenses. Williams runs harder than his size as a fringe 200-pound back, but he’s by no means a power runner and is best suited for a wide zone system that will allow him and his nimble feet to string out the POA before locating and attacking a vacant gap.

Ideal role: Third-down running back and rotational member of a backfield by committee on the early downs.

Scheme tendencies: Inside or wide zone heavy rushing system. Teams with back motion as indicators will maximize his receiving skills and find use for his versatility as a player. 6+ man protection schemes.

FILM EVALUATION

Written by Kyle Crabbs

Games watched: Clemson (2020), Duke (2020), Alabama (2020), Wisconsin (2021), Purdue (2021), Florida State (2021), Southern California (2021), Virginia Tech (2021)

Best Game Studied: Clemson (2020)

Worst Game Studied: Wisconsin (2021)

Vision: I think he does well enough with his initial read to key the penetration or leverage of the IDL and make a judgment on how to negotiate his initial press to the line of scrimmage. But with that said, I did think there were some instances where he could have tucked his runs upfield with more urgency instead of stringing out and looking to stretch and manufacture a gap for himself. With a good line in front of him, he’ll be quite consistent, but initial penetration could really derail his consistency in reading the front.

Footwork: I do wish his feet had a little extra bounce or spring in them to help him drive through a gap quickly as it materializes, but his step frequency is fluid. He’s a short strider thanks to his stature and, as a result, he’s able to make subtle adjustments to his path and I have a great appreciation for how active his feet are in playing through contact. He’s constantly resetting his base to work and collect momentum when he shakes free.

Contact Balance: Williams is an aggressive ball-carrier who isn’t afraid to physically challenge tacklers in one-on-one situations or drop his pads and try to run through a body or pile, but at 195-200 pounds, some of his forward push is stonewalled quickly and he needs to convert effort into twisting and contorting through contact to fall forward. He is quite slippery at first contact when faced with backfield penetration, however.

Durability: The Irish have been utilizing him in a timeshare in the backfield with RB Chris Tyree, who has taken approximately 25% of the rushes over the course of each of the last two seasons. That, plus the presence of a running quarterback in Ian Book in 2020, has kept Williams fairly fresh as a ball-carrier and his total carry count low. He will leave CFB well south of 500 career carries but he hasn’t missed time and plays condensed enough to avoid major hits and body blows.

Explosiveness: You wish he had a little bit more juice in long-speed situations, as footraces 40-plus yards downfield don’t always convert into scores and his short-area explosiveness isn’t what you’d hope for from a sub-200 pound back to hang his hat on. The scouting idiom ‘quicker than fast’ applies here for Williams, but if you do get him out into the open field, he’s plenty capable to finish for a chunk gain. He doesn’t showcase a lot of pop in his lateral cuts either—it’s more suddenness than dynamic power through his body to change directions.

Versatility: See Above.

Elusiveness: See Above.

Ball Security: This can be a point of emphasis. He was credited with three fumbles (one lost) in the regular season of 2021 and an additional five (three lost) throughout the course of his 2020 campaign. As a smaller back who will excel in space, ensuring he’s tighter with the ball and doesn’t let big hits jolt him to interrupt integrity here is going to be a big part of his development. Fumbles could be an issue that derails him from a bigger role.

Passing Down Skills: See Above.

Discipline: I’d like to see less of an instinct to press to the perimeter and string plays out when his initial read gets blown up and he’s forced off-script. He does understand situational football and knows when to duck his head and churn for yards near the goal line or in short-yardage, but early downs can be derailed by a tendency to look to bounce the ball outside instead of taking his 3-yard profit. 

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: 74.08/100 (Fourth Round Value)

Crabbs Grade: 76.50/100

Marino Grade: 73.50/100

Harris Grade: 72.00/100

Sanchez Grade: 74.50/100

Weissman Grade: 72.00/100

Parson Grade: 76.00/100