The Buffalo Bills probably hope Jonathan Williams isn’t needed too much as a rookie. That’d mean LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams are both healthy, both productive.
But this run-first team took no chances in drafting the rugged Arkansas running back.
On Friday, they signed Jonathan Williams to a contract. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, signing rookies is easy business. So far, Williams, TCU wide receiver Kolby Listenbee and USC cornerback Kevon Seymour have all been signed. Everyone else should follow.
The 6-foot, 223-pound Williams missed all of 2015 with a torn ligament in his foot. He hasn’t carried the ball in a game since Dec. 29, 2014, the primary reason he fell to the 156th overall pick.
When healthy, he ran with balance and power. Williams forced 44 missed tackles in 2014, gaining 1,190 yards on 211 carries (5.6 avg.) with 12 touchdowns. He has played in Bobby Petrino’s more spread out scheme and Bret Bielema throwback power scheme, comparing himself to Marshawn Lynch.
For now, he’ll compete with Mike Gillislee and James Wilder Jr. for the No. 3 spot behind the 1-2 punch of LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams.
"Things are going to happen,” Williams said of the injury last week, “it’s how you react to them. So that was just another piece of adversity I had to overcome. … It all motivated me to work harder and never get comfortable with where I am.
“I definitely take pride in running physical, running downhill and breaking tackles. I think I’m elusive, too. I think I can break tackles in more than one way — not just running through people — but making people miss as well. I think I have a lot of tools to use.”
He’ll wear No. 40 in Buffalo.
Very quickly last season the Bills learned to take nothing for granted at running back. At one point, in Nashville, they were down to Boobie Dixon and Boom Herron. Hardly ideal. Williams provides depth at a position the team clearly still values more than most of the league.
"We already led the NFL in rushing," Williams said. "Hopefully I can contribute to that backfield. I definitely think we can be the best backfield in the NFL.”