Leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, running backs are always a hot topic, but there have only been eight running backs drafted in the first round over the last five drafts combined. North Carolina RB Javonte Williams is among the top running backs in his class. He's rising up draft boards, and could be a late first-rounder or a solid second-round pick.
So which teams have a need for an immediate starter or strong option to carry some of the load as a rookie? Here are three likely destinations for Williams in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Javonte Williams Draft Projection
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Williams rushed for 1,140 yards and 7.3 yards-per-carry in 2020. He scored 22 total touchdowns including 19 rushing, and added 305 receiving yards. Scouts love that Williams averaged 4.59 yards after contact per carry for the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Steelers pick No. 24 in the first round and have a primary need at running back. They figure to strongly consider one of the top-three running backs in the draft with third-year player Benny Snell Jr. still unproven in his young career.
2. Buffalo Bills
Williams averaged over 10 yards per carry on power, counter or man runs in 2020 (545 yards on 53 carries). He also gained 434 rushing yards on inside-zone runs, at 5.6 yards per attempt. The Bills draft No. 30 in the first round, and will have to decide if Williams could be the lead back they desire. Buffalo has third-year RB Devin Singletary and second-year runner Zack Moss, but neither rushed for 700 yards last year.
1. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have been rebuilding, but the foundation is set. After Miami picks at No. 6 and 18 in the first round, Williams could be a target early in the second round at No. 36 overall. The Dolphins have no primary running back to carry the load, as Myles Gaskin had 584 rushing yards in 10 games last season to lead the team. ProFootballFocus advanced stats has Williams with the top grade of any running back drafted since 2015 in his final season, and is right near the top in forced missed tackles and yards after contact. The Dolphins are likely to take Williams if he lasts into the second round.
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