Andre Williams might've been selected in the fourth round of last spring's NFL Draft, but he's already displaying abilities that will have him making an impact this fall. Through the first few days of training camp, the former Heisman Trophy finalist and 2,000-yard rusher for the Eagles is fast letting everyone know that he's no fluke.
Listed as one of the early risers of Giants camp, Williams already projects to get a substantial amount of hand offs by opposing goal lines. That's huge for fans of Big Blue given that their club ranked 30th out of 32 franchises last year in red zone efficiency. At only 47% efficiency, they were terrible down the stretch, highlighting their need for a bruising running back who can pound the ball with lethal results.
The Giants were positively atrocious running the football last season. Using a host of different backs, including Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis, they failed to have a single individual gain 500 yards. They had 11 touchdowns as a unit; contrast that with Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles, who had 12 apiece, and Eddie Lacy, who had 11. It's possible that Williams will resemble Lacy, a stout back who had over 1,000 yards but only four games over 100.
For Andre Williams, he addresses that need by giving the Giants a back who can bruise opposing defenses and provide a contrast to David Wilson. Always built as a team capable of long, sustained drives, a lack of running game last year forced Eli Manning to throw the ball more frequently. While that meant Manning became a more focused part of the office, it also meant the Giants lost with more regularity. Big Blue wins games by controlling drives, winding down the clock, being ultra efficient, and wearing down opposing defenses with a brutal, physical style.
Williams is battling in camp behind Wilson and Rashad Jennings for the third spot in the running backs roster. He's running opposite Hillis, the former 1,000 yard back who had a similar style but fell off considerably in recent years. With a backfield composed of these men plus fullbacks John Connor and Henry Hynoski, the Giants are looking for the best backs able to crush up the middle and run through defensive players. That's where AW comes in.
Williams will be able to win the battle with Hillis if he can develop one or two more schools on the fly. Not known as a pass blocker or a pass catcher, he can surpass Hillis if he can show an affinity for doing one or the other or at least a development in that area. It's unlikely a team will cut a draft pick, especially a fourth rounder, and especially a running back (a position typically where stars can be found in the later rounds of the draft). But it'll be interesting to see how the Giants use the man when they open up their preseason in Canton next weekend.
The Giants will play Buffalo in the annual Hall of Fame Game on August 3rd.