Lottery Tickets is a breakdown series of the lesser known players who have a chance to make the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 1 roster. Leading up to training camp, we’ll be profiling the intriguing undrafted free agents and reserve/future contract players that show the ability to potentially stick in the NFL. The players we discuss are high upside players that haven’t significantly affected the Chiefs bottom line, but the returns could be substantial. We’ve already reviewed quarterback Chase Litton here.
Why would the Kansas City Chiefs make one of the most significant undrafted free agent signings of the 2018 season on running back Darrel Williams? Why would Williams want to sign with a team that has Kareem Hunt, Spencer Ware, Charcandrick and two additional Williamses (Damien and Kerwynn) on the roster?
I was rather surprised when I saw that the Chiefs were able to get Williams’ commitment to join the roster. Most people already thought the fifth running back, Kerwynn Williams, was excessive. The truth of that matter is, there is likely going to be a lot of shuffling going on in the coming months.
Ware and Damien Williams aren’t locks to be healthy in time to start the season and could start on the PUP list. The former, along with West, both carry big enough cap hits for the 2018 season that the Chiefs could save some money moving on from one or both. Also, there is the fact that the only running back currently on the 2019 roster is Kareem Hunt.
It’s uncertain times for the Chiefs’ running back room and its future. There are several directions the Chiefs could end up going at the position. Williams could make some decisions much easier to figure out than others if he’s able to show the promise he did at LSU.
Why he went undrafted
You’re never going to confuse Williams for a great athlete. He ran a less-than-blazing 4.72 40-yard dash and 9-foot, 1-inch broad jump were some of the lower numbers of his group at the combine. He’s not flashy and he’s not going to make a ton of people miss. Add in the overall devaluing of the position and here we are.
Make no mistake about it though: WIlliams is a good football player. He has plenty of ability to dethrone an incumbent or be the last Williams (or two) standing. He’s nothing if he isn’t decisive.
There isn’t any dancing here from Williams. He makes a decision and sticks to it. Williams is the definition of a no-nonsense runner. He’s not here to make a bunch of moves to elude tacklers and make dynamic plays in space. He tries to be as north-and-south minded a runner as he can be. He knows himself and what he’s capable of and it shows in his runs. He’s also willing to deliver a blow. That can be taxing as a game goes on. Williams is committed to efficiency and physicality as a runner and you need that. That efficiency can be rewarding.
There’s not a ton of space here, and Williams makes the right choices to hit pay dirt. A quick recognition of the blocking, vision to see the hole, a little agility to get to the hole and quickly back running north-south to get a big run against Alabama. He doesn’t have the long speed to close it out, but he was still able to a lot of yards on this play.
You also might get a capable pass protector out of Williams.
He is not the quickest running back, but he works hard in pass protection and tries to get in position as best he can to keep the pocket clean. On this play, you can see him solidly square up the blitzing linebacker. He’s more than capable physically and can continue to develop his technique and vision as he comes along. Williams can provide value as a pass catcher as well.
Soft hands on the 225-pound running back. There’s enough there that you can trust him in the passing game to do his job as an outlet. He shows a well-rounded skill set in all that’s required of a running back. Notice how he’s embracing the contact here as well. He may not be great at anything, but he certainly has the ability to handle a variety of things.
The bottom line
There are some similarities to Spencer Ware, and it’s not just the fact that both are products of LSU. Ware is a little more athletic than Williams, but both are no-nonsense runners looking to get what’s there and deliver a blow when contact comes looking for them. They both have a well-rounded game and can help in a lot of areas. WIlliams is much more of a complementary player, and doesn’t have the ceiling that Ware has shown, but there is a ton of value to what he is and can be in the NFL. Considering that there isn’t any depth behind Kareem Hunt for 2019, I could see Williams getting a long look and a pretty good chance of sticking in Kansas City on the active roster.
His price tag is smaller than the rest of his competition, he could be under control beyond 2018 and he’s also a good player. It seemed a little interesting that the Chiefs invested the money they did in the running back, but it could end up making a ton of sense here in a few months. Williams is definitely someone to watch this pre-season.
For both the present and future, the young running back could be a valuable asset.