It hasn't been a great offseason for second-year running backs. Cam Akers tore his Achilles. J.K. Dobbins, OK, he's fine, but the Ravens signed Gus Edwards to a deal that makes it clear he'll have a significant part of the running game. With D'Andre Swift, first the team signed Jamaal Williams and talked him up as the 1A. And now there's an injury issue.
Swift has been missing significant practice time while nursing a sore groin. He's in uniform, but not participating in either 7 on 7 or 11 on 11 drills, which kind of doesn't leave very much that he's actually doing. Swift just went at pick 3.02 of an experts draft I'm participating in, which seemed early -- and very much so with this groin injury now a concern.
Even before this development, we were higher than most on Jamaal Williams. Anthony Lynn gave that interview earlier in the offseason where he talked up Williams as his lead back, and more recently there was a story talking about a hot-hand backfield. Those supporting Swift will point to the relative talent of the two players and the idea that Swift will gradually emerge as the featured guy. But Williams is going to be hanging around as a part of the offense regardless -- and right now, he's the healthy one.
Williams was not overly effective his first two seasons in Green Bay. In 2017 and 2018, he had at least 10 rushing attempts 13 times. He averaged more than 3.7 yards per attempt in only four of those games -- not good.
|JAMAAL WILLIAMS, 2017-2018 (10-PLUS CARRIES)|
Look, however, at the last two years. Better offensive system, and perhaps a better, definitely more experienced and comfortable Williams. In his nine games with double-digit rushing attempts, Jones was under 4.1 per attempt only once; at least 4.7 in nearly half of them. Yards per carry isn't everything, but I have to think his success the last two seasons (including a 100-yard performance against the Lions in 2019) factored into Detroit signing him.
|WILLIAMS, 2019-2020 (10-PLUS CARRIES)|
I'm not certain, but I suspect I'll be selecting Williams, potentially, in a middle round of one of the slow drafts I'm participating in. He's being frequently drafted as a backup. I don't know for sure if he'll be better than Swift this year, but looks like a committee situation. If you're drafting right now, better to select the one available later and who doesn't have a groin injury.