Remember Javonte Williams, 'Canes fans? How would he look in aqua and orange?

Joe Schad
Palm Beach Post
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Miami Hurricanes safety Bubba Bolden (21) can't hold onto North Carolina Tar Heels running back Javonte Williams (25) in the third quarter at Hard Rock Stadium In Miami Gardens, Florida, Saturday, December 12, 2020.

Javonte Williams, the North Carolina running back, covered 40 yards in 4.58 seconds at his Pro Day on Monday.

It was a timed speed that was neither eye-popping, nor overly-alarming, considering Williams is about 5-feet-10 and his playing weight is 220 pounds.

"I felt like I had a pretty good day overall," Williams told media afterwards. "I improved my 40 time from when I started working out in January."

The Dolphins were present in Chapel Hill on Monday, which makes sense. Miami must land an elite running back in the next NFL Draft, and Williams is enticing.

"I feel I can do it all," Williams said. "Run. Pass catch. Block. Not a lot of wear and tear."

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Williams' greatest strength is power. And if Williams' benign 40-yard dash increases the possibility he's available with Miami's first second round pick (36th overall) that's probably just fine by them.

"Big, broad bully back who runs with an exciting blend of animosity," draft analyst Lance Zierlien wrote of Williams. "Runs like a tank."

The Dolphins haven't really had a running back with that skill set since Jay Ajayi was making the Pro Bowl and churning out 200-yard games in 2016.

It must seem obvious that coach Brian Flores would appreciate, endorse and relish a running back who might actually be able to run over a linebacker or safety.

Williams is a violent runner who plays with a purpose. He was also a high school valedictorian. That is the pretty much the ideal combination for Flores.

Tough and smart? Yes. And yes.

Last year, free-agent signee Jordan Howard was supposed to deliver brawn to the Dolphins, but gained no traction. This year, free-agent signee Malcolm Brown is a solid addition but in no way a projected bell cow ball carrier.

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Last year the Dolphins passed on the chance to draft rookie running backs like Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D'Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, Cam Akers, J.K. Dobbins and A.J. Dillon. Miami prioritized other positions.

But make no mistake — not drafting a running back hurt. Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed exceeded expectations but the Dolphins figure to add a dynamic workhorse in the first two rounds of the next draft.

Najee Harris of Alabama and Travis Etienne of Clemson are appealing. But it's possible using the 18th pick in the first round on one of them might be required. And the Dolphins will surely consider an edge rusher with that position.

Perhaps Miami takes the best back available at 36. Or, maybe Miami can jump up into the bottom of the first round to select the starting running back they require.

The Dolphins certainly have the draft capital to do that. And perhaps it will be necessary, in order to land one of the Top 3 backs in this draft.

Williams, who began his high school career as a linebacker, believes he's the best ball carrier in the draft. And some draft experts, like Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network, feel he may be correct.

"Williams is a thick, compact running back with outstanding vision, power and quickness," says Jeremiah, who rates Williams as his 26th-best player.

North Carolina running back Javonte Williams runs ahead of the Miami defense during the first half of their game, Saturday, December 12, 2020, at Hard Rock Stadium.

Jeremiah notes Williams is a solid protector and pass-catcher, though he has had some double-catches. Maybe Williams is a three-down player, but at worst, he should be an excellent option on first- and second-downs.

Etienne boasts blazing speed. He has covered 40 yards in 4.4 seconds. Najee Harris is an excellent athlete and reportedly run 4.45.

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Williams' 40-yard dash times are more comparable to Aaron Jones (who just got paid by the Packers in free agency) and Le'Veon Bell (who is still available, but has had a very good career).

Who else once ran a reported 4.58 40-yard dash? Frank Gore, the 'Canes and pro legend. Miami would sign up right now for a young Frank Gore, wouldn't they?

Williams likes to consider himself as a blend between rugged Nick Chubb and slippery Alvin Kamara. It is true that Williams is not simply a straight-ahead runner without the ability to create big plays.

According to Pro Football Focus, Williams was first in the NCAA on missed tackles forced and fourth in yards after contact last season. But he was also second on carries of 15 yards or more. This is potentially a complete NFL running back.

If Miami general manager Chris Grier simply cannot bring himself to select a running back in the first round, Williams would be an outstanding option at the top of the second round. If available.

The last time Williams played a game at Hard Rock Stadium?

Yes, that was Williams who ran 23 times for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns. Yes, that was Williams who went all Marshawn Lynch Beast Mode by hurdling a Cane and then barreling over another on his way to a memorable run.

"I've gotten an Instagram page," Williams said. "So that's been popping up. People tagging me. So I've seen it a lot."

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