The North Carolina Tar Heels had quite the backfield last year. Javonte Williams and Michael Carter combined for 2,385 rushing yards and totaled 33 touchdowns in 2020. With both UNC RBs entering the 2021 NFL Draft, let’s compare and contrast the two players.
Michael Carter vs. Javonte Williams
In 2020, Javonte Williams carried the ball 157 times, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. Michael Carter received one fewer carry but averaged a whopping 8.0 yards per rush. Carter got into the end zone nine times as a runner, while Williams found paydirt on his rushing attempts on 19 occasions. Both backs also caught 25 passes last year.
Those numbers are very similar, with Williams accumulating 305 receiving yards with Carter totaling 267. Williams also scored one more receiving touchdown in 2020. In conclusion, Javonte Williams and Michael Carter racked up 2,957 total yards in addition to their 33 touchdowns.
The UNC RBs are different in several ways
Even though they play the same position, Javonte Williams and Michael Carter are different types of running backs. They complemented each other extremely well at UNC. Needless to say, the Tar Heels will miss Williams and Carter as they head off to the NFL. Likewise, their futures as professionals could be extremely bright.
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Could Javonte Williams be the first RB selected in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Back in the 2013 NFL Draft, UNC had the first RB drafted in Giovani Bernard. Bernard went ahead of other prospects like Le’Veon Bell and Eddie Lacy. Michael Carter won’t contend for that honor in 2021, but there is an outside shot that Javonte Williams could get selected ahead of Najee Harris or Travis Etienne.
Javonte Williams was dominant this past season and really put himself on the national map as an exceptional back. He is several months younger than Etienne and two years younger than Harris. With Michael Carter in the mix, Williams has much less wear and tear on his body than those two as well.
Javonte Williams only had 416 touches at the college level, but don’t think for a second that he doesn’t have his share of contact.
He is a brutal runner with rare balance and incredibly difficult to get on the ground. Williams gets a huge percentage of his yardage after first contact, a great indicator of future success at the next level.
In addition to being a stout runner, Williams may be the best pass protector in this RB class
His contact balance is rare, and he relishes in dishing out punishment. His speed is probably a little above average, but he was rarely caught from behind and does have a high school track background. Once Williams gets to the second level, the defense is in trouble. He strings together moves very well in space in a decisive manner; he bullies smaller defenders.
Javonte Williams’ stiff arm is a legitimate weapon. With his powerful thick body and low center of gravity, Williams has the build to carry the football and carry it often.
As a receiver, he really improved this past season. Furthermore, Williams just might be the best running back in this draft class in pass protection. As is the case when he is running the ball, Williams loves to embarrass blitzers and put them on their back.
Michael Carter will contribute best as a receiver
Michael Carter is a much different type of player, of course, and is noticeably smaller than Williams. Carter is short, but he is also compact and thickly built, especially in his lower half. He doesn’t project as a bell-cow runner like Williams, but he can break arm tackles and push a pile. He, too, has impressive contact balance and will pinball off defenders.
It is tough to get a square shot in on Carter, especially in the open field. His stop/start quickness and agility really stand out. Michael Carter also consistently demonstrates excellent vision. As is the case with Williams, UNC’s offensive line was far from spectacular in creating space for these two RBs.
Michael Carter is an excellent runner and not purely a change-of-pace back in that regard. Yet, Carter’s best contributions at the next level will be as a receiver and as an overall offensive weapon. Carter is great coming out of the backfield, but he also can detach and run wide receiver-type routes.
While not in Williams’ league in this area, Carter has been a quality pass blocker as well. However, he probably needs more work in this department, and his lack of size will always be a detriment here.
Javonte Williams and Michael Carter are two drastically different running backs, but both benefitted from the other’s presence at the college level. Neither should last until Day 3 of the draft. Furthermore, both players should be excellent at the next level.
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