|Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports||Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports|
The Colts held the 24th and 48th picks in Round 7 of the 2013 NFL Draft. With the 24th, they selected Utah State Running Back Kerwynn Williams, a projected 5th round prospect.
With the 48th pick in the 7th round, the 254th and final pick in the draft, Indianapolis elected to give a chance to South Carolina Tight End Justice Cunningham.
We’ll begin with Williams. He is only 195 pounds, but very stout, at just 5 foot 8. He is also fast, or as NFL.com’s Gil Brandt described him last month, “quick-as-a-hiccup.” According to Brandt, the Colts sent a representative to Williams’ pro day back in March. Perhaps more telling of their plans for him is that the person they sent was assistant special teams coach Brant Boyer. Williams, who ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash (4.44, according to some reports), did see plenty of action returning punts and kicks at Utah State.
According to his CBS Sports draft profile, Williams put up some very impressive numbers in college:
Following a very similar career path as Arkansas running back Dennis Johnson, Williams has toiled in relative obscurity at Utah State despite establishing himself early on as one of the most electric returners in the country.
He led the WAC in kick return yardage (1,131) as a true freshman, ranking third in the country, but saw virtually no action at running back, rushing just twice for 10 yards. He saw his opportunity for playing time increase a season later with future Seattle Seahawk Robert Turbin going down with a knee injury.
While again leading the WAC as a returner (1,444), Williams became more of a focal point of the offense, rushing for 451 yards on just 81 carries (5.6 ypc average) and catching 12 passes for another 110 yards. Williams averaged 170.2 all-purpose yards per game in 2010, which not only led the WAC but ranked sixth in the FBS.
Williams was similarly effective as a junior, recording 1,520 all-purpose yards, including a then-career-high 542 rushing yards while operating as a big-play threat alongside Turbin.
With Turbin heading off to the NFL in 2012, some worried how well the diminutive Williams would handle the lead back role. They needn't have been concerned, as Williams took the WAC by storm, rushing for 1,512 yards and 15 touchdowns, including 235 yards and three scores in winning MVP honors against Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
While emerging as USU's leading rusher, Williams remained the team's top returner and proved a remarkably productive receiver, hauling in 45 passes for 697 yards and another five scores. He leaves Utah State as the school's all-time leader in all-purpose yardage with 6,928 — a total that places him atop the all-time WAC list and ranks 11th in FBS history.
Blessed with great elusiveness, speed, vision and hands, Williams is perfectly suited to maintaining his game-breaking ways as a third down/return specialist role in the NFL. While perhaps not a household name, his production and versatility speaks for itself.
STRENGTHS: Possesses a short, compact frame. Takes quick, choppy steps which give him great lateral agility and burst. Savvy runner who varies his gait, lulling defenders with one speed before showing a quick burst to break into the open field. Very good vision to recognize cut back lanes and make use of downfield blockers.
Possesses excellent ball skills. Secures passes quickly with his hands, showing the ability to easily adjust his body to make tough catches and still maintain forward momentum. Used on a variety of routes out of the backfield for USU, as well as lined up out of the slot and even outside.
Experienced kick and punt returner with the secure hands and elusiveness to maintain this role in the NFL.
WEAKNESSES: Obvious size limitations. Only logged one season (2012) with more than 81 carries so durability has to be a concern despite the fact that Williams never missed a collegiate game due to injury.
Too often goes down to first contact, showing little power to bounce off tackles. Relies on his ability to make defenders miss.
Willing and cognizant blocker, but size limitations are especially evident in pass protection where he offers little more than a speed bump to oncoming defenders.
Has excellent agility and acceleration but does not appear to have legitimate breakaway speed to pull away in the open field. Despite his gaudy return totals has only one kick return for a touchdown over his career (92 yards at Nevada, 2011) despite breaking into the open on multiple occasions.
COMPARES TO: LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals — Like Stephens-Howling, Williams will have an uphill battle to make an NFL roster but his versatility and big-play potential could make him too valuable to not find a niche.
NFL.com sees Williams as a versatile player who probably won’t get many carries because of his limitations:
Stuck behind two running backs drafted last April (Robert Turbin, Michael Smith), Williams patiently waited for 2012 to get his chance as the Aggies’ top backfield threat. Williams seized his opportunity with a strong senior season that included 20 total touchdowns. Williams is unlikely to see many carries in the NFL like Turbin and Smith potentially will, but he's a more versatile player than either one of them. Williams could be drafted late based upon his pass catching and kick return ability.
Kerwynn Williams’s scouting videos – Watch for number 25:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4jhiVk1UUw versus Louisiana Tech
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib87GIDdbUU versus UNLV
This kid was a home run threat in college. He could become a solid punt and/or kick returner.
And now, Mr. Irrelevant. TE Justice Cunningham is 6-3, 258 pounds, and he ran a 4.9-second 40-yard dash at the combine. He isn’t fast, but he is an above average blocker, according to the information I can find on him.
NFL.com’s Combine profile on Cunningham:
Cunningham attended Central High School in Pageland, South Carolina. In 2009, he earned First-Team All-State honors. He helped Central reach the 2008 Class AA state finals and a 14-1 record playing both tight end and defensive end. Cunningham collected 20 sacks in his senior year, but was deemed to be a better tight end prospect, mostly due to his blocking skills. Cunningham also excelled in basketball. He chose South Carolina over Michigan State and North Carolina State.
Cunningham saw the field right away in two tight end sets. He was mainly in to block, so he caught just two passes for 23 yards on the year. In 2010, Cunningham earned the Steve Sisk Outstanding Blocker Award in the spring. He played in all 14 games, and logged two starts, while recording seven catches for 92 yards. As a junior, Cunningham played in all 13 games and made eight starts. He caught 18 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. In 2012, Cunningham played in nine games, and caught 23 passes for 324 yards.
Very good blocker, acts as a third offensive tackle at times. Quick hands and light feet. Powerful punch, and can get a push or turn the shoulder of defenders. Savvy route running, sells body fakes to create separation. Adjusts well to the football.
Not an explosive athlete. Doesn't jump off the line of scrimmage. Not very fast, won't consistently threaten the seam. Doesn't always make catches off his body. Lacks great height and length. Limited production.
Cunningham has seen a lot of playing time for South Carolina due to his skills as a run blocker and pass blocker, but he has been underutilized as a receiving threat. While he's far from a dynamic athlete, he shows enough skills to get open and make catches. He should stick in the NFL, if for nothing else besides his blocking.
With their two 7th rounders, the Colts found a potential special teams and situational contributor and a tight end who could make the team as a blocker in heavy formations and goal line sets.
So, the NFL Draft is complete. After a little post-draft analysis, some ESPN staffers will disconnect Mel Kiper Jr.’s battery, and store him away until February, when he will reappear, knowing a little something about every single draft prospect…and disagreeing vehemently with Todd McShay (check out this fantastic impression by Frank Caliendo, h/t Nate Dunlevy).
Happy Draft Weekend, everyone.
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