Kyren Williams is the latest running back to join the Rams’ roster after being selected in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL draft. The Rams moved up 11 spots to draft him, ensuring he wouldn’t be selected before they went on the clock at No. 175 overall.
Williams is a nice complement to Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr., who are projected to be the top two backs, thanks to his receiving and pass-blocking ability.
Here are six things to know about the former Notre Dame running back.
1 He grew up in St. Louis and was a huge Steven Jackson fan
Williams said after he was drafted that he “grew up at the Edward Jones Dome” watching the Rams. He also idolized Steven Jackson, even dressing up as him for Halloween. The Rams shared a photo of a young Kyren Williams with Jackson, showing just how far back his appreciation of him for the former Rams running back goes.
Now, he’ll get to play for the same team as his favorite running back, which is awesome.
2 He had 2,760 total yards and scored 40 TDs as a high school senior
Williams was a dominant player in high school, especially as a senior. He rushed for 2,035 yards and caught 55 passes for 725 yards in his final season at St. John Vianney, scoring a total of 40 touchdowns that year. He wound up as a four-star recruit out of high school, receiving offers from Michigan, Missouri and Notre Dame, as well as others.
His receiving skills go back to his time as a slot receiver in high school, which is where he played before switching to running back.
3 He comes from a football family
According to Dane Brugler’s draft guide for The Athletic, several of Williams’ family members played college football. His dad was a linebacker at Northern Illinois, his uncle played at Alabama, another uncle played at Kansas State and his grandfather was a DB at Missouri.
He’s not the first player whose dad also played collegiately, but it’s clear Williams has been around the game in one way or another for his entire life.
4 Had at least 1,000 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns and 300 yards receiving in 2020 and 2021
Williams was only a starter for two seasons at Notre Dame, but he was productive in both of them. Just look at the consistency he displayed from 2020 to 2021
2020 (12 games): 211 carries, 1,125 yards, 13 TDs. 35 catches, 313 yards, 1 TD 2021 (12 games): 204 carries, 1,002 yards, 14 TDs. 42 catches, 359 yards, 3 TDs
Williams may not have put up huge numbers in college, but Notre Dame knew exactly what it was going to get from him each year. His career rushing average of 5.1 yards per carry was healthy, as was his 8.7 yards per reception.
5 He’s drawn comparisons to James White and Dion Lewis
The most common comparisons for Williams during the pre-draft process were White and Lewis – both of whom played for the Patriots as pass-catching backs. Brugler compared Williams to White, saying he “shows some similarities” to him in his game.
Lance Zierlein’s comp for Williams was Lewis, writing that “The Patriots’ usage of James White, Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden might be the blueprint for how to utilize Williams in the NFL.”
Sean McVay has often looked for receiving specialists in the backfield and tried to make Lance Dunbar a contributor in 2017, but he couldn’t stay healthy. Williams could be McVay’s latest attempt at finding a scat back.
6 Had highest PFF grade by Notre Dame RB since 2014
Williams had his best season in 2021 by Pro Football Focus’ standards. He earned an overall grade of 82.1, which was one of the best in the country. It was also the highest by a Notre Dame running back since 2014, showing just how valuable he was to the Fighting Irish offense.