Everyone loves a good underdog story, so when a Buffalo Bills player seems to come out of nowhere to give an epic performance, fans take notice. It isn’t just fans who notice these performances, either, as veteran players and coaches always seem that much more excited when a seldom-used player has a breakout game.
In Week 17 of the 2020 season, one such player gave the performance of his life. In his first professional action after what was a trying year, this undrafted rookie made the most of the opportunity he was given.
In today’s installment of our “90 players in 90 days” series, we profile the guy who is easily my favorite underdog on the 2021 Bills.
Name: Antonio Williams
Height/Weight: 5’11” 215 lbs
Age: 23 (24 on 10/22/2021)
Experience/Draft: 1; signed with Bills as UDFA following the 2020 NFL Draft
College: North Carolina
Acquired: Signed with Bills on 5/8/2020
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Signed a reserve/futures deal on 1/26/2021. For the 2021 season, Williams carries a cap hit of $660,000 if he makes the roster. There is no guaranteed money on the deal.
2020 Recap: Williams did not make Buffalo’s roster out of camp last season, but the Bills signed him to the practice squad on September 6. Williams bounced on and off the Bills’ practice squad a few times in September and October, and he even returned to North Carolina to work as an unpaid assistant coach. By October 8, Buffalo had re-signed him to the practice squad again, and he remained on the squad until Week 17. He was elevated for Buffalo’s season finale, and he made the most of his chance. Williams carried 12 times for 63 yards and two rushing touchdowns, adding one 20-yard reception to his total ledger. He reverted to the practice squad following the game, and although he was elevated again for the Bills’ playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, he was a healthy scratch in that game.
Positional outlook: Williams once again faces an uphill battle for a roster spot, as the Bills’ top two backs, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, both return. Matt Breida signed in the offseason, and special teams stalwart Taiwan Jones re-signed, as well. Fellow practice squad darling Christian Wade rounds out the depth chart.
2021 Offseason: Williams is healthy and attending OTAs.
2021 Season outlook: After watching Williams bulldoze his way through the league’s top rushing defense in Week 17, it’s hard to count the young man out heading into the 2021 season. However, with Singletary and Moss ahead of him, Williams would have to prove his mettle as a special teams contributor in order to beat out Jones for activation on gamedays. Breida brings a speed element that none of the aforementioned backs brings, so he’s likely safe in the T.J. Yeldon role. Food for thought regarding Williams: As a senior at UNC, he won the team’s special teams MVP award. If he can prove himself to be effective on special teams during the preseason, he has a shot to make the final roster; however, another trip to the practice squad is the more likely route. I’ll be rooting for him hard this summer!