LEXINGTON, Ky. — Boom Williams could be on the outside looking in come the 2017 NFL Draft, but a glance at the past three drafts shows there’s a place for the former Kentucky running back.
SEC Country already has compared Williams to three NFL backs: Darren Sproles, Dion Lewis and Dexter McCluster. But now we’ve taken a look at recent drafts to see where players with similar size (5-foot-9, 196 pounds) and attributes (breakaway speed, balance, lateral agility) to Williams have been selected.
Drafted: 119th overall by Houston
College: San Jose State
Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 192 pounds
Ervin recorded 1 carry for the Texans in his rookie year but was one of the team’s primary kick and punt returners. The goal for players like Williams, Ervin and the rest on this list is to get the ball in space. The return game is one way to do that.
NFL draft profile: “Ervin, a flashy space weapon, will put together a solid highlight package as Houston’s scatback. Bill O’Brien can get creative with Ervin and his open-field running ability. His NFL role will involve 3rd down packages and returning kicks.”
Drafted: 143rd overall by Oakland
College: Texas Tech
Height/weight: 5-8, 204 pounds
Washington’s frame is a little bit bigger, but the former Texas Tech star is similar to Williams in a lot of ways. Washington rushed for 467 yards and 2 scores in his rookie campaign and caught 17 passes for 115 yards. Williams has to develop in the passing game to become valuable in the NFL because he and other undersized backs rarely end up as every-down options.
NFL draft profile: “The Raiders needed RB depth and Washington provides that with his 3rd down abilities. He won’t give you much between the tackles but he’ll flash as a ‘space’ player. Washington can also help as a returner.”
Drafted: 230th overall by New Orleans
Height/weight: 5-8, 193 pounds
Take a look at drafted running backs during the last few years and you’ll notice most measure at least 6-foot and 215 pounds. Murphy, a former seventh-round selection, is one of the few smaller than Williams. The bad news for Williams is that Murphy, who has similar size and skill set, hasn’t recorded a carry in his first two NFL seasons.
NFL draft profile: “Sean Payton continues to unearth utility running backs he can fit in various roles within his offense. Murphy has potential as a cog in the Saints’ wide open offense if he excels during camp.”
Drafted: 124th overall by Kansas City
Height/weight: 5-9, 174 pounds
Thomas was an electric college back, but those skills didn’t transfer to the NFL. His third year with the Chiefs was his least productive. In his first two seasons, he recorded 23 and 17 receptions, respectively. Thomas has transitioned into more of a receiver out of the backfield than a running back. Coaches have to get creative with players who don’t fit the typical NFL mold, and Williams will need to find the right fit.
NFL draft profile: “Good vision and cutback ability — is patient and follows his blocks. Can tightrope-walk the sideline. Very quick to and through the hole once he sees a crease and can stick his foot in the dirt and go.”
Drafted: 186th overall by Washington
Height/weight: 5-9, 201 pounds
Seastrunk was given a chance in the sixth round but never was able to make anything of it. He bounced from Washington to the New York Jets. Seastrunk is a free agent without an NFL touch. He is another example of a dynamic-but-undersized college running back who never stuck at the next level. Williams has long odds, but of the players on this list, he’d do best to follow Washington’s lead.
NFL draft profile: “Benefited from an offense featuring a lot of fly sweeps and lateral runs that have not translated well to the NFL game.”