As a Virginia Tech student, I have seen a lot, and I mean A LOT of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans.
Having a press pass to all of the home games last season gave me some time to get to know both of them as people, not simply as football players.
As a Hokie, I have some natural bias in what I think and hope these two players can do, but I will attempt to give my objective prediction to where "The Untouchables 2.0" will go in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Williams is an extremely powerful runner with a lot of agility and speed. He keeps those legs moving, and if you look through his highlights from 2009, you will see a lot of him carrying two or three players into the end zone.
Last season, though, Williams was hit with a hamstring tear, which limited his playing time for most of the season.
In 2009, when Williams was healthy, he set the Virginia Tech freshman rushing record (previously set by Darren Evans the year before) with 1,655 yards. Williams also had 21 rushing touchdowns that season to complement 16 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown.
In 2010, Williams rushed for 477 yards with 9 touchdowns. He also had 10 receptions for 109 yards and one touchdown.
With his brief college career broken down by the numbers, let's turn to the NFL teams that have a need for running back.
The first ones that jump out are Miami, Green Bay, Dallas and Washington. These teams all have a major to semi-important need for a running back.
Out of the four listed right there, Dallas and Washington pick overall 9th and 10th but the Cowboys need to address either the secondary or offensive line first and Washington needs a quarterback or a wide receiver first. Those two are out of the question.
Miami is up next picking at 15th overall and they will likely take a running back, but that back will most likely be Mark Ingram from Alabama.
Green Bay, the defending Super Bowl champions, showed their need for a running back late in the season. At 32nd overall, Green Bay wouldn't surprise me by taking Williams here, but I would have to say that they pass over Williams here for a more pressing matter.
That leaves Williams out of the first round. Moving on to the second round. New England is another team that could use a complementary back, and Williams would flourish under a Bill Belichick offense.
The Patriots have four picks in the first two rounds, so it would not surprise me if the Patriots took him with either the 33rd overall pick or 60th overall pick.
My prediction for Williams does in fact place him with the Patriots, but not at either of those spots. I see the Patriots trading down in typical Belichick fashion with the 33rd overall pick from Washington at 41st overall.
This will allow Washington to make a play on the remaining quarterbacks and will still allow the Pats to get their man.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: 41st overall, selected by The New England Patriots
It saddens me that Evans isn't a sexier pick, but he just isn't. He is a very powerful runner with his fair share of speed, but he won't blow anybody away by any means.
In his freshman year at Virginia Tech, Evans rushed for 1,265 yards (At that point, the Virginia Tech freshman record) and 11 touchdowns. Evans also had 17 receptions for 117 yards.
Evans also had injury problems in his second year at Virginia Tech, but he had an ACL tear. That kept Evans out for the entire 2009 season, which allowed Ryan Williams to shine like he did.
Coming back in 2010, there were questions about how that leg would hold up, but those were answered with some certainty. Evans rushed for 854 yards and 11 touchdowns while splitting carries with Ryan Williams and David Wilson. Evans also had 9 receptions for 100 yards even.
Evans is honest with himself, he knows he isn't going to be a top-tier pick. He has a family to feed and he definitely will be picked up, so the move seemed right. Time to break down his potential.
The way I see it, Evans had three rounds in which he has to work with, rounds 5 through 7.
By that point, a lot of teams will have solidified their running back position, but I can see a couple teams taking a chance on Evans this late: Dallas, Indianapolis, Packers and Redskins.
I get the feeling that Dallas by this point won't have taken a running back simply because they have a lot of other needs that need filling.
That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if by pick 176 or 220, Dallas takes a shot at Evans.
Indianapolis has a tendency to take these no-name running backs and make them decent NFL players. Evans isn't quite a no-name back, but he's definitely no Ingram or Williams.
At pick 188 overall, in the sixth round, I could see Indy taking Evans and working him on the practice squad for a couple of years until he is ready to take the field.
The Packers will likely have picked up a running back by now, they just have. I can't see them taking another back in this draft, no matter how badly they need one. If they did take a shot this late, it would be a 233 overall in the mid-7th round.
Lastly, the Redskins do have a need and it wouldn't kill them to take a shot in the late rounds, especially since Washington, D.C., has a massive Virginia Tech fan base.
You definitely can't hurt yourself by taking a fan favorite. If Washington does take Evans, it will be at pick 213 in the early 7th round.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: 220th Overall, selected by The Dallas Cowboys
Whether I'm right or wrong, I truly wish these two the best, not only as a writer, but as a Hokie and a friend. The teams that draft these two are getting two quality players and human beings.
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