Photo of Joe Williams
Drafted By: 49ers

Combine Results

5.4 ?
  • 4.41 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 14 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 35.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 125.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 7.19 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.19 SEC
    Top Performer
Blue Star  =  Combine Top Performer

Draft Analysis:

The speedy Williams has some game-breaking ability and Kyle Shanahan knows how to get his speed backs in space. He'll be good for 8-10 touches/game if he can cut down the fumbles. --Mark Dulgerian

  • 5'11" Height
  • 30 3/4" Arm Length
  • 210LBS. Weight
  • 9 3/8" Hands


It's been a runabout journey from Allentown, Pennsylvania to the NFL draft circuit for Williams. After starring in football and track in high school, he went to Hargrave Military Academy in fall 2011, then attended Connecticut the following year (six yards on three carries in nine games). Williams did not play with the team in 2013 after being suspended in August of that year for credit card theft and illegal use. Moving on to ASA College in New York for the 2014 season, Williams rekindled interest from major programs after being named second-team NJCAA All-American (1,093 yards, seven TD in seven games). He signed with Utah, playing behind Devontae Booker and starting twice when Booker was injured (140-490, seven TD rushing; 11-84 receiving). Williams' journey became more unusual when he decided to retire early in the 2016 season. After seeing multiple Ute running backs go down with injuries, he knew he'd get the call to return -- and boy did he return. Williams finished the year in the top 20 nationally with 1,420 rushing yards, also scoring 10 times in nine contests. He put up 333 yards and four touchdowns against UCLA in his second game back and finished his career with 222 yards and a touchdown in the team's Foster Farms Bowl win over Indiana.



Plus athlete. Has get-away burst in small spaces. Flashes breakaway speed to take it to the house if he gets up to the safeties. Sudden second gear to turn the corner or accelerate through line of scrimmage. Carries weight in his lower half, allowing for unique contact balance. Able to recover from hits that bring most runners down. Runs feet through initial contact and blows through arm tackles. Makes defenders earn their tackles and is hard to bring down. Can create with wiggle and power. Has lateral shuffle of a basketball player to slink out of traffic jams and escape outside. Can string moves together on second and third levels. Lowers pads to finish runs with momentum.


"Retired" for a month before coming back after Utah running back corps was depleted due to injuries. Questions have arisen about his football character and commitment to the game. Ball security issues are a concern; lost six fumbles over 289 carries at Utah. Needs to press line of scrimmage longer before making his cuts. Will run into traffic that he might be able to avoid. Shows occurrences of hesitation if he doesn't have a clean point of entry between tackles. Runs a little too tall approaching line of scrimmage. Non-factor as third-down option. Rarely catches passes and not committed to blocking.

Draft Projection

Rounds 6-7

Sources Tell Us

"Just too many red flags for me. Getting kicked out of UConn for theft was strike one, but then you have his fumbles and his 'retirement'. I just don't want that hassle. Too many players to choose from." -- Area scout for NFC area team

NFL Comparison

Jerick McKinnon

Bottom Line

Draft grade is affected by some of the character concerns that could preclude his NFL career from taking off. The more tape you watch, the more you become impressed with Williams' ability to keep runs alive that other running backs couldn't. His ability to create yardage for himself is a necessary piece of the puzzle for NFL runners, but his inability to contribute on third downs could hurt his draft stock. Williams has talent as a runner and could fit a roster spot if teams are okay with his background.
-Lance Zierlein
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-9.00 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl to All-Pro Ability
6.50-6.99 Good NFL Starter with Pro Bowl Potential
6.00-6.49 Chance to become good NFL starter
5.70-5.99 Could become early NFL starter
5.30-5.69 Backup or eventual starter
5.15-5.29 Developmental prospect or special teams potential
5.01-5.14 Back end of the roster
5.00 50/50 Chance of making the roster