Miami Dolphins' running back Damien Williams has an excellent opportunity to establish himself as a undrafted free agency steal when training camp begins in less than two weeks.
Williams went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft after being kicked off the Oklahoma Sooners football team halfway through the 2013 season for violating team rules on multiple occasions, but Williams' draft stock, or lack thereof, is no indication of his talent.
In the 22 collegiate games that Williams played in, he tallied 19 total touchdowns (18 rushing, one receiving) and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Williams also caught 410 yards worth of passes at Oklahoma (most of it coming in his junior season) and, while seldomly being used in this area, proved himself to be a receiving threat out of the backfield.
Williams is a quick, shifty running back who can run past, and run over, defenders with a strong build at 5'11", 222 pounds. Williams has good vision, which is key for backs in the zone-blocking scheme, and plays with a great passion for the game.
Williams has a quick burst through the hole (when he is decisive about which route to take) evidenced by his 10-yard split of 1.56 at the NFL Scouting Combine, which was among the fastest of the running backs.
Williams probably fits the new system being implemented by offensive coordinator Bill Lazor the best out of any running back on the roster. Williams gets the nod in this contest over Lamar Miller, who I previously wrote about as being the back best suited for this offense.
Lazor's offense demands a running back who can catch passes out of the backfield as well as have the speed to get around the edge on outside zone runs. While the two are comparable in the speed department (one runs a 4.4 40 yard dash, the other runs a 4.45), Williams catches the ball better than Miller.
I actually think Williams may be more talented overall because he can do more. Williams is more a bit more agile than Miller, runs with more power, provides a better receiving threat out of the backfield and may already be as good a pass blocker as Miller. I like Miller and think he will do good things this year, but he is limited in his talents and that will restrict his playing time.
Williams has some runs that make you bang your head on the wall because he was trying to do to much, but with that comes a big play ability that can't be ignored, such as his 95-yard touchdown run against Texas in the 2012 Cotton Bowl. A lot of his big runs came when his offensive line paved huge running lanes, but he has an ability to create (the trusting of which often gets him into trouble).
Williams has been an adequate run blocker when called upon to do so and a good receiving option. That, coupled with his running ability, will earn him playing time as it will save the offense from needing to substitute.
Williams is a fun-to-watch running back who produces big plays, and he may just be the Lesean McCoy that everyone is looking for in this offense. Williams has a lot to prove in a short amount of time to get anywhere close to even having an opportunity at making that a reality, but talent and opportunity can lead to great things. Williams, however, needs to focus first on making the team.
It's now up to Williams to have his head on straight and take advantage of the opportunity that this training camp and this team (with an unstable, unsecure and up-for-grabs running back position) presents him.