As we near the end of our series of player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster that will report to training camp for the New York Giants in just a few days, we have reached one of the most intriguing members of the Giants' 2014 rookie class. Running back Andre Williams was a fourth-round selection, and they hope the 5-foot-11, 230-pounder can help them get back to the power running game they like.
2013 Season In Review
Williams, bluntly, was the entire Boston College offense in 2013. He carried the ball a staggering 355 times, gaining 2,177 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and scoring 18 touchdowns. Williams finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
After the Giants made Williams the 113th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin had this to say:
"When you stop and think about what Boston College was able to accomplish this year, I don't know how much tape you guys have seen, but they would come out sometimes in two or three tight ends, which would bring the entire defense down and actually have the offensive formation contained almost hash mark to hash mark in college football. And yet this kid still rushed for (2,100) plus yards," Coughlin said. "He's able to break tackles, he's fast enough that when he gets in the open he can go all the way. He's demonstrated that. He runs outside, he runs inside, he's run the counter game, the gap scheme stuff, the power and he breaks arm tackles, he runs through people, he's strong, he's not big, strong legs that allow him to drive through people and fall forward, which is another nice thing."
2014 Season Outlook
The Giants were one of the worst rushing teams in the league in 2013, averaging 83.2 yards per game (29th) and 3.5 yards per carry (also 29th). Part of that was due to the struggles of the offensive line. The Giants, however, went through six starting running backs and never seemed to find a consistently reliable one.
To try and rectify that, the Giants signed free-agent Rashad Jennings and drafted Williams.
"You wouldn't take a guy like that unless you were committed to the run," Coughlin said. "We've got to get going up front again and be the dominating force up front, which can move the defense."
So, where does Williams fit? The Giants liked what they saw of Williams during offseason practices, and the hope has to be that he can quickly become a productive part of their running back rotation.
"He's a big, strong physical runner. He led the nation in rushing last year in college football. He is strong, he's a very explosive runner. I hear that from the defense, they say, ‘Man, that guy has really got it going.' I'm really excited to see what he's all about and you can tell, he runs hard and you can tell," running backs coach Craig Johnson said during mini-camp. "But as I have told him, that's all great. When the pads come on then you'll get the change to separate a little bit. Am I concerned about how he is going to do? Not at all. But I still have to see it for all of the young players before I get real excited by the young guy."
The number that gives pause when it comes to Williams is the zero in the 'pass receptions' column last season. He caught only 10 passes in four years at BC, and there are big questions about his pass-catching and pass-blocking ability. As much as the Giants have liked what they have seen when handing him the ball, Williams has to be able to protect quarterback Eli Manning and occasionally catch a pass to be a full-fledged member of the running back rotation.
"I talked to him about blocking and I talked to him about running the ball," Johnson said. "It's just the process, you want to be a well-rounded guy as a back. In modern football, that's how you get to stay on the field a lot."
How well Williams picks up those things will go a long way in determining how much of a role he plays in 2014.