Scouting Report: Grading Out New RB Ryan Williams

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Here's a quick breakdown of running back Ryan Williams, who the Cowboys signed over the weekend: 

Ryan Williams - Running Back - 5-10 - 205 - 4.61 - Virginia Tech

Drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft

Games Studied: 2012 Arizona Cardinals: Philadelphia, St. Louis

Williams has played a total of just five games in his NFL career. He suffered a ruptured patella tendon in his right knee during his rookie season in 2011 and a shoulder injury in 2012 that cut into his playing time. He was healthy in 2013, but was made inactive all 16 games by Bruce Arians and the new coaching staff in Arizona.

There are snaps where he looks very straight-line as a ball carrier, then others where he was able to bend the ball around the block and get up the field – he flashes that ability to make a cut when he needs to. Speed-wise, he was able to get the ball to the corner but didn't show the ability to get around it. The wider he had to take the ball, the more likely he was going to run out of room. [embedded_ad]

In the Philadelphia game he did a much better job of making tacklers miss than he did against St. Louis. He had a nice spin move against the Eagles that allowed him to tack on some extra yards on the end of his run. There were snaps where he was able to bounce off the tacklers, keep his balance and finish the run. Then there were others where he was brought down one-on-one in the hole.

His running style is very straight forward -- small jab step, then to the hole. He's a simple route runner, mainly in the flat. Did not see him catch any passes underneath or inside the tackle box. Hands did appear natural. Did not fight the ball when he had the chance. Was mainly in the open when the ball went in his direction, only had to make one contested catch against the Rams and the ball was knocked away.

If he is lacking in one area, it would be his pass protection. He showed the awareness to understand who he needed to take or help with, but the execution was poor. He is going to need plenty of work here because he struggles with his technique. When ask to help on the edge, he is likely to just try and throw a flipper at the rusher.  He and the right tackle gave up a sack against the Eagles where he just flat whiffed on the block. The next time he had to block, he chose to cut the rusher instead of staying on his feet and hitting square. Doesn't look comfortable at all when he has to do this.

There's no real risk in what the front office is trying to do here. It's clear Williams has talent, but he needs to get past the health questions to show how well he can perform. 

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