The New York Giants were ecstatic to be able to select running back Andre Williams in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. A Heisman Trophy finalist at Boston College, Williams seemed like a powerful, workhorse running back perfect for a Tom Coughlin-coached team. Williams had his moments as a rookie, but overall his performance was underwhelming.
Let's look closer at Williams as we near the end of our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
2014 Season in Review
There were some moments like this for the fourth-round pick:
Unfortunately, there weren't enough of those. He lead the Giants in carries with 217 and rushing yards with 721, but averaged just a paltry 3.3 yards per carry. Some of that was due to an offensive line that struggled with run blocking, but some was due to Williams' own impatience and lack of vision.
Perhaps the worst thing to happen to Williams was being forced to carry the running load alone when Rashad Jennings missed four games in the middle of the season. During those games, Williams carried 60 times for 165 yards, a miniscule 2.75 yards per carry. He did have a 24-carry, 131-yard game Week 14 vs. the Tennessee Titans and a 26-carry, 112-yard game Week 16 vs. the St. Louis Rams.
Williams also caught 18 passes, proving that he could catch, after having zero receptions as a senior at Boston College.
NJ.com said Williams' rookie year was even worse than it looked.
2015 Season Outlook
Can Williams develop the patience and vision he sometimes seemed to lack in 2014? That is worth wondering about. You can make the case that those things are God-given abilities for many running backs -- they either have them or they don't.
Giants' running backs coach Craig Johnson likes the work Williams did in the spring.
"Andre Williams played a lot of football for us last year, was our leading rusher, had a really good offseason and has worked diligently," Johnson said. "A lot of people asked about, what about catching the ball. When he came to us out of Boston College, he didn't have a catch his last year of playing in college and he has worked diligently at working on his hands and continues to improve dramatically in that area. He can run very well and can block."
What will Williams' role be in 2015? If you follow him on social media you have likely seen various photos or videos of him working to become more comfortable as a pass catcher. Thing is, no matter how hard Williams works at improving his suspect hands the Giants will always prefer to throw the ball to Jennings or newly-acquired Shane Vereen.
With Jennings as the incumbent feature back and Vereen as the pass-catching and long-yardage back, what role is there for Williams? Short-yardage and goal line? Perhaps a late-game grinder if the Giants are winning? Maybe he shows improvement with his patience and steals some carries from Jennings.
The picture for Williams, though, seems unclear as camp approaches.