It’s typically a toss up as to what happens at running back each year when it comes to the Detroit Lions, but one analyst predicts their newest back will serve a pretty limited role.
NFL Network analyst and former RB Maurice Jones-Drew examined 10 running backs and how they’ll fit in with their new teams. One of those 10 included newly signed Jamaal Williams.
Though the previous Lions regime was known to do some ... err, interesting things at running back, Jones-Drew predicts Williams will have a limited role similar to previous years.
In past seasons, the Green Bay Packers typically opted to use Aaron Jones or A.J. Dillon ahead of Williams. In 2020, he recorded 119 carries for 505 yards, as well as 31 catches for 236 yards, with a total of three touchdowns in 14 games.
Now he faces a similar situation in Detroit, where he’ll be fighting for carries with D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson.
“I don’t see Williams beating out Swift for the starting job, but he could take carries away from Johnson, offering Jared Goff’s new offense a change-of-pace back and another target out of the backfield,” Jones-Drew writes.
The analyst predicts very similar production to 2020 — his guess: 120 carries, 500 rushing yards, 15 catches, 150 receiving yards, and three total touchdowns.
Of course, it all depends on whether the Lions running backs can stay healthy this year, and whether this new regime actually has bigger plans in store for Williams.
“I just want to do more than I’m already doing,” Williams told reporters a few days ago. “I don’t want to feel like—people feel like they know who I am already—they don’t know how far I can really go. I don’t know how far I can really go because my potential is unlimited. Because my mind is. I just want to keep growing and finding things that I need to work on. You can never stop working. That’s my mentality.”
The Lions backs are all pretty young — all three under the age of 26 — so there’s plenty of opportunities for growth.
And onto the rest of your notes.
- Detroit received a top grade for the Goff-Stafford trade in NFL.com’s Marc Sessler’s free agency report card.
- Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press offers his latest mock where four quarterbacks are snatched up, but he thinks the Lions still target the offense. (Subscription required.)
- Today is Ford Field’s second day of operation serving as a massive vaccination site. A new rendition of Forward Down the Field for you:
- “I’m here for biting kneecaps metaphors but this team is going to be awful in 2021.” PFF’s Ian Hartitz offers fantasy football takeaways for the Lions as well as the rest of the league.
- Sports Illustrated All Lion’s Vito Chirco compares the Lions’ offseason moves with the rest of the NFC North.