Since coming out of Virginia Tech in the 2011 NFL Draft, Ryan Williams has failed to meet expectations. The main reason why is he’s never stayed healthy for a full season. During his three-year tenure with the Arizona Cardinals, Williams had the chance to be change-of-pace back behind Beanie Wells. The Dallas Cowboys signed Williams in free agency, and he will likely play as a similar role behind DeMarco Murray.
A knee injury made Williams sit out his entire rookie season, and Arizona’s offensive line was the main reason for his lack of production in 2012. Last season, Williams had trouble finding playing time with Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington in the mix. That being said, the Cardinals gave up their 2011 second-round draft pick and the Cowboys, just days after, swept up the oft-injured player.
The good news for Williams is that he is coming to an offense that needs a pass-catcher out of the backfield, and that’s a role Williams can excel in. The Cowboys have a big running back in Murray, but they lack that player who can make defenders miss. At 5-foot-9, 205 pounds, Williams is an athlete, and he passes the eye test to be a solid offensive weapon. The Cowboys have a change-of-pace back in Lance Dunbar, but he is unproven and has also had problems staying healthy. Now entering his second year, Joseph Randle also looked bad last year backing up Murray. The main problem I have with Randle is that he is slow and isn’t very powerful either. Signing Williams is a win-win situation for the Cowboys, because even if he doesn’t pan out he doesn’t cost much. If Williams can stay healthy, he would be another play-maker for Tony Romo and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to work with.