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- Position: Running back (RB)
- Class: Senior
- College: Florida State
- Ht/Wt: 6'1", 230 pounds
Karlos Williams is a 6'1", 230-pound member of the talented Florida State running back stable of the last few years. Williams, a former safety-slash-llinebacker who converted to running back in the 2013 season, shows a natural aptitude for running the ball. He has excellent start and stop acceleration, bursting up to full speed in a hurry. He moves his feet with a great rhythm, capable of changing his pace to make cuts or juke a defender. He runs the ball with a returner's mentality, allowing his blockers to set up a lane and using his vision to find the best path to the open field.
Williams does a great job protecting the football when he runs. He also has natural body control as a receiver, catching with his hands, adjusting to awkward passes, and immediately heading downfield with the ball. He runs with authority, will bounce off weaker contact, and drag himself forward when he's wrapped up. That being said, his balance is just average, so sometimes he will be sent to the ground before he can put up a fight.
As a converted safety, Williams is still developing his runner's mentality. He can be patient when a fullback or guard is setting up a lane for him, but he doesn't like to slam it up the gut into a wall of people. He's an upright runner, courtesy of his tall stature, and though he's capable of lowering his pads to deliver a hit, sometimes he drops his head at the same time, losing power in the process.
Coming from a pro-style offense, Williams is well-versed in pass protection concepts. He holds up well in that area for a rookie, but he can improve his performance there. He's also a valuable special teamer. Williams has practice as a kick returner, and was also on kickoff and punt coverage teams in college. He could even moonlight as a deep backup safety for the team, since his sophomore year tape wasn't terrible at the position.
It should be noted that Williams was investigated on domestic battery charges that were ultimately dropped. I haven't done more than a cursory amount of research into the case, but Doug Whaley mentioned that the staff did extensive research into the matter before making the decision to draft him. In this case, I'll place the benefit of the doubt with Buffalo.
Williams is what the team hoped it was getting when it traded for Bryce Brown last season. Williams is a talented running back prospect, a dynamic athlete, and was fairly underused up to this point (with under 250 college carries). He flashes big-play ability as a runner, has the power to move piles in short yardage, and the explosiveness to take a wheel route for a 40-yard reception. He also brings versatility to the team as a guy with special teams experience. Add his reliable carrying and the adequate pass protection, and you have a pretty valuable third- or fourth-string running back with upside.
He might only ever be a change-of-pace back, but if he develops his vision and processing speed, the foundation is there for a strong starting running back. I expect him to climb ahead of Brown on the depth chart this preseason, and eventually take over as the primary backup to LeSean McCoy in a couple of years.