RB Andre Williams led the NCAA in rushing at Boston College in 2013, but was not selected in the 2014 NFL Draft until the fourth round by the Giants.
Williams was said to be a poor receiver, and it was a huge knock against him coming into the draft. He can’t catch the football out of the backfield, they said.
As it turns out, the problem wasn’t that Williams couldn’t catch the football. The issue was that he was not asked to catch the football at the collegiate level. He was strictly utilized as a scrimmage runner.
Scouts and pundits simply came to the conclusion that since Williams wasn’t thrown the ball at BC, he must be a poor receiver. Those individuals don’t know Williams and they don’t know that he looks to improve on his game each and every day.
Williams was asked about his receiving game and where he stands as training camp begins. Has catching the ball been something he’s been working on?
“Absolutely,” he said. “It’s something that I didn’t do enough and just like anything else it came with practice.”
“He is improving in that area,” RB coach Craig Johnson told reporters Wednesday when asked about Williams’ pass-receiving skills. “He definitely knew that was a problem he had to get better at coming out of Boston College, not having a lot of touches catching the ball. He has worked very hard at that and he is improving in that area.”
Johnson said if there was a weakness in Williams’ game, it is probably his blocking ability, another aspect of the game Williams was not asked to do much of.
“It is because they were basically an I-formation team there at Boston College, so the blocking is going to be a work in progress all the way along,” Johnson explained. “We are going to do drills all the time, and he’s coming along. He is big, strong and physical, and that is what you are looking for. We just have to continue to practice the technique because it is not ever the same in practices and in the game. We are trying to make that as close as possible.”
Williams scored a TD in a goal-line situation during Wednesday’s drills. Tom Coughin, who described Williams as a “Highly conditioned, awesome athlete picking up as he goes” was asked if Williams was more of a “straight-ahead” back:
“If you have been watching practice and you watched him last spring, he’s become one. He was not used that way at Boston College but he certainly showed his ability to do that. Hopefully he will be a good pass back.”
Currently, the returning David Wilson is ahead of Williams on the depth chart at tailback, but the Giants could easily leapfrog Williams over him as the summer unfolds.