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Williams A Wild Card Weapon

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Kerwynn Williams lacks the size of a prototypical running back, but can be a return threat for the Colts. Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images
Kerwynn Williams lacks the size of a prototypical running back, but can be a return threat for the Colts. Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, I began a series taking a closer look at each player the Indianapolis Colts selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. Today is Kerwynn Williams’ turn.

Selection: Seventh round, 230th overall

Position/size: Running back/5 ft. 8 in., 195 lbs

Collegiate awards: 2012 All-Western Athletic Conference first team, 2012 All-Bowl Team by CBSSports.com, 2012 Idaho Potato Bowl MVP

Collegiate stats: 6,928 career all-purpose yards (12th-most in FBS history), averaged 11.7 yards per play, 6.6 yards per rush, 13.6 yards per catch and 141.4 all-purpose yards per game, 3,408 kick return yards (fourth-most in FBS history)

Strengths: Williams’ NFL calling card is to be a wild card type of offensive threat. His quickness and overall athleticism make him a dynamic returner on both kicks and punts. His role in the return game will allow 2012 rookie T.Y. Hilton to focus on becoming a true slot receiver. Williams’ versatility will also make him a threat in the passing game. He has experience lining up as a receiver in four- and five-receiver sets, and he’s excellent coming out of the backfield to provide Andrew Luck with some easy dump offs for first downs. Expect the Colts to get him into open space as much as possible with plays like screens or quick slants.

Weaknesses: Williams’ game is based purely on athleticism. At only 195 lbs, he has very little strength. This means he certainly won’t be an every-down back in the NFL, and he can’t be depended on in short-yardage situations to move the pile. He also is a very weak pass-blocker. Basically, he will only come onto the field when the Colts want to put the ball into his hands, which will make their offense a little more predictable.

Best case scenario: He turns into the next Darren Sproles. He may not top the 100 mark in either rushing attempts or receptions for the season, but he’s still a feared weapon that defensive coordinators have to spend a significant amount of time preparing for. He becomes Luck’s new favorite toy and develops great chemistry with the young quarterback. On top of that, he becomes one of the league’s top return men that causes opposing punters to more often than not kick out of bounds in fear that he’ll rip off a game-changing touchdown.

Worst case scenario: Although he never had injury problems in college, Williams’ small stature doesn’t hold up in the NFL as he is beaten up by bigger, stronger players. His athleticism turns out to be overhyped: playing against inferior competition in the WAC made him look better than he actually was. His inability to make game-changing plays combined with his lack of size and strength make him essentially useless at the professional level and he’s out of the league in a few years.

Realistic expectations: Williams has the potential to be another Sproles type, but it might be a little unfair to expect him to be as successful. He’ll be a good enough returner to take the job full-time, but will he be one of the leagues most feared… I am a little skeptical on that. He’ll be a fun toy for Luck to play around with on third downs and obvious passing situations, but I don’t see him being as explosive as Sproles.

Quotes: GM Ryan Grigson (via Colts.com): “We love his tape.  He’s fast, extremely quick and elusive. He brings a wrinkle that can help us as a returner.  (We) had him rated as one of the best returners in this draft.  It got our attention.  He’s exciting to watch as a runner and returner.  He fills a tremendous need, and he has value on third down.”

Williams (via IndyStar.com): "Oh, man, I’m at a loss for words right now. It’s like a dream come true to come up there and be able to play for such a storied organization."