Sorting out the safest Bears running back choice in the draft

Trayveon Williams could offer Bears best all-purpose option at their later start in this draft.

Matt Nagy's desire for a running back in this draft capable of catching plenty of passes might seem rather strange considering raw numbers from his time spent with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs are the model for this Bears offense, and by applying this model the best solution for the Bears in the draft might be Texas A&M's Trayveon Williams.

Running backs caught 80 passes for the Chiefs in 2017 when Nagy was Andy Reid's offensive coordinator.

Before Nagy became offensive coordinator, but was on the offensive staff, the running backs made 66 receptions in 2016, 49 in 2015, 62 in 2014 and 88 in 2013. When they had 88 in 2013, Jamaal Charles made 70 receptions.

Last year the Bears had 100 receptions from four running backs.

Taken at face value, the total makes one wonder why they traded running back Jordan Howard. They already had more receptions from backs than the Chiefs ever had.

However, Tarik Cohen had 71 of those catches. Howard had 20.

"There are a lot of backs in this draft right now that are one-dimensional, there are some that are hybrids and there are some that are really just scat guys," Nagy said when he spoke with media at the combine.

Nagy wants an elusive ball carrier, but not one who runs or receives. He wants both.

"And at the same time, there's that balance of being a hybrid being able to make things happen in the pass game too, but yet to where you're not one-dimensional," Nagy said. "That's not easy."

It's really not easy considering the Bears don't pick until the third round.

Cohen had 71 receptions but lined up all over the field to get those receptions and is regarded as a Darren Sproles type. If his reception total dropped next year, it would be fine with the Bears as long as other backs like Mike Davis and a draft pick, had a good number of receptions out of the backfield.

The element of surprise is what Nagy covets in his offense, and a back who provides this is most desired. It makes one think he was several years too late coming to Chicago, considering the Bears had a back like this excel for eight seasons in Matt Forte.

The unspoken aspect to this formula is pass blocking.

A running back who catches passes and runs is needed. If he can also pass block effectively, it makes for a complete package.

There are very few backs like this in the draft, but this all explains the extensive interest the Bears have shown in Williams and Devin Singletary from Florida Atlantic.

Singletary's obvious elusiveness at the line of scrimmage is apparent on film. ESPN's Matt Bowen breaks down Singletary by calling him "a willing blocker in pass protection, and despite his limited numbers as a receiver – only six receptions in 2018 – the traits are there for him to advance his overall game."

Bowen said Williams' use as a three-down back was a plus. "... And the system he played in will translate to the NFL. Think receiving-game production as a pro back who can hold his ground in pass production."

Mark Jarvis of sees in Williams one of the best pass blockers in the draft despite a lack of size at 5-8, 206.

"Squares up and puts his weight into blocks, but usually gets sent backwards with opponent’s initial punch," Jarvis wrote. "Played the role of a willing lead blocker for other backs when called upon. Unafraid of getting engaged with bigger guys; goes after opponents twice his size."

Singletary's slow 4.6-plus time in the 40 at the combine displays a lack of breakaway speed compared to Williams (4.51).

The scarier runner might be Sanders, with his combination of speed, power, vision and elusiveness. He also understands the passing game well.

But he could be lacking as a pass blocker and Peter Schrager of thinks any Bears interest in Sanders is misplaced by the Bears because he could be long gone by the third round. In his March 26 mock draft, Schrager sends Sanders to the Rams at No. 31 overall.

Schrager wrote: "Sanders isn’t getting the same pre-draft buzz as other running backs in this class, but his combine performance turned heads around the league. His pass-catching ability – SEE: the Indiana game, when he hauled in six catches for 54 yards – helps him.”

Williams is regarded as more of a one-cut back, but one who has just enough lateral quickness to make a tackler miss at the line. And he shows great vision both at the line and downfield.

There are enough positive qualities and certainties in Williams' game to make him a safer pick than many others in this draft. More and more, Williams looks like a potential option if the Bears are trying to max out with a backfield pick who they're likely to get use from in all aspects of the game.


Comments (3)
No. 1-3

Why would they want this guy? Get someone with real speed like Bryce Love. That’s a differencemaker

Gene Chamberlain
Gene Chamberlain


Special? You get special drafting in the first round. After that you get what you get.


I watched this guy in the bowl game and in another game at the end of the year and thought he was great, if he had a hole 10 yards wide to run through. He wasn't anything special

Gene Chamberlain
EditorGene Chamberlain
New Comment