Cannot Substitute Intelligence

April 9th, 2021

Football smarts.

This is hardly a unique quote, but one of Joe’s favorite coaches/managers in sports often said this when evaluating players.

Hall of Fame baseball manager Whitey Herzog often told his subordinates when evaluating players, “We can’t teach speed.” He also liked to say “speed kills.” So if a guy could throw the ball hard or run like the wind, he was higher on Herzog’s totem pole than a slower guy with otherwise the same talent.

There is another element that cannot be taught. That’s smarts. Either a guy is smart or he’s not as smart — or worse. So when Joe read about “Athletic Intelligence Quotient” on Mike Tannenbaum’s, it peaked Joe’s interest. In short, it’s a new-fangled way to learn if an athlete possesses natural on-field smarts in his sport.

Apparently, one of the better running back prospects in the draft, Javonte Williams of North Carolina, is an athlete who has these traits.

Williams is a damn good runner and a damn good blocker. Catching the ball? Needs some work. But with his blocking, he is an every-down back. Coaches love that. Williams is widely regarded as the third-best running back in this month’s draft.

Andy Hanson of The33rdTeam noted that Williams has a habit of always falling forward. Joe loves this. Why? A guy who always falls forward often gets that tough extra yard or two. Often, this is the difference between a team punting or moving the chains.

So let’s see: Williams is smart, he’s tough and fights and falls forward for an extra yard or two on his runs, and is a good blocker. This is Joe’s kind of guy.

Here is Williams’ breakdown in “The Beast” by Dane Brugler of The Athletic:

STRENGTHS: Well-built with powerful legs, hips and thighs…violent finisher with outstanding balance through contact, who led the FBS in broken tackles (47) and first-down carries (72) in 2020…power-packed, determined runner who hits with lead in his shoulder pads to put defenders on their backs…one of the most powerful and effective stiff-arm moves you will see from a college player…consistently falls forward and gets the tough yards in short yardage…nimble feet for his size and routinely able to step out of tackles…his cutting skills have become more of a weapon as his run tempo improves…catches the ball well on swing screens without breaking stride…mature and very intelligent on the field and off (high school valedictorian and graduated with a 4.6 GPA)…finished third in the ACC in rushing yards per game (103.6) in 2020.

SUMMARY: A part-time starter at North Carolina, Williams shared the workload with Michael Carter under offensive coordinator Phil Longo, playing more of the thunder role to Carter’s lightning. Both running backs enjoyed remarkable 2020 seasons and finished their careers as the only players in school history (minimum 300 rush attempts) to average better than 6.0 yards per carry. Williams is an incredibly strong runner with a stout stiff-arm to dump defenders, leaving broken tackles all over the field. A linebacker-turned-running back as a senior in high school, he still has plenty of room to improve his run tempo and patience, especially when the run design isn’t there. Overall, Williams can be an inconsistent decision-maker at the line of scrimmage, but he creates for himself through balance and power at contact and forces defenders to be near perfect with their technique to get him on the ground, similar to a more compact version of Leonard Fournette.

Ooohhh… [said in a Curly Howard voice] another Playoff Lenny?

Brugler believes Williams will be drafted at No. 41 overall. Would it be wise of the Bucs perhaps to trade back a couple of spots, forget Travis Etinene and this Najee Harris and instead get Williams and maybe an extra second- or third-round pick?

Joe thinks a top running back will do just fine. Running backs more often than not have the biggest impacts of all rookies. And since the Bucs are Going for Two, immediate impact is what they should draft for.

33 Responses to “Cannot Substitute Intelligence”

  1. Bruce Blahak Says:

    Good call. I think he’s better than the top 2.

  2. SKBucsFan Says:

    I think we have bigger needs in the future than RB. But if Licht can trade back and get an edge and this guy in round 2, I would say go for it. But the D line needs to.come first. And is Williams available at 64? Maybe, but probably not.

  3. NOLES Says:

    Agree on immediate impact Joe. Best position for that is RB and we wont pay Lenny or Rojo next yr is my guess..

    Vaughn looks promising and w a top RB this yr they can carry the torch moving forward and provide some depth for this yr.

    Unless a Top Interior Lineman falls bc depth on OL is critical in 17 game season and playoffs. Thank you Mr Stinnie…

  4. The Daily Coroner Says:

    Joe. You’ve finally come around! I love Javonte Williams. RJO and Playoff Lenny are both on one year contracts.

  5. SB~LV Says:

    Don’t get cute , take the best player on your dream sheet @ 32 no matter where the “experts “ have him slotted. This includes trading down gambling the player will be available later.

  6. Cobraboy Says:

    The problem with DLine is none of those guys are worth a #1 or #2. This is not a good DL class.

  7. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I am hoping the Penn State pass rusher is still there, when we pick!

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Since when did 1 year contracts bother us?…….all these wanting Tyler Johnson to get more snaps….how about Keyshawn Vaughn?

    I’m thinking we need some Dline depth.

  9. alaskabuc Says:

    Peyton Barber 2.0, pass

  10. Brandon Says:

    41 overall or a better buy at #32 and be able to have that 5th year option? He’s a RB. What is his shelf life and do you want to lose him in four years or five? With only Vaughn under contract for 2022, I think you pull the trigger at #32.

  11. Smashsquatch Says:

    Memories of Vince Coleman and the tarp and Bob Dekinger are haunting me again! Thanks for Whitey Herzog reference Joe!

    Williams is a prototypical RB and a true three down NFL back. Thumbs up if the Bucs end up drafting him, 1st or 2nd round after a trade down.

  12. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    Joe, usually I see where you are coming from. But this obsession you recently have with drafting a RB high is out of left field. The Bucs have not had a good sample size of Keyshawn Vaugn, and we already have Rojo and Lombardi Lenny. Yes, I know Rojo and Lenny are gone next year, but we have Vaughn, who was drafted high, and we can draft a RB in ’22.

    We have too many AARP guys on the DL now in Suh (one year deal), Goldston (last year of contract), and JPP (last year of functioning knees?). We need some youth – BADLY. Yeah, I know its not a great draft interior DL, but there might be one there, so BPA. And besides, as they usually take time to develop, what happened to Joe’s OCD for DE/EDGE rushers?! This is the position we need to fill in Rd 1.

  13. Bruce Blahak Says:

    definitely not a need but if it’s a trade down from 32 or he’s there at 64…worth a look

  14. Swampbuc Says:

    One of my favorite comedians has a different way of saying it.

    “You can’t fix stupid.”

  15. Pewter941 Says:

    I heard some interviews with some defensive players, and they said the other North Carolina running back was the best back they played against.

  16. Hodad Says:

    Catching the ball, needs some work. We have that already. If we’re going to draft a back there’s only two I want that high. Harris, Etienne, pass after that till the 4th round.

  17. geno711 Says:

    I love Brugler’s more in depth analysis than other guys.

    Interesting that Joe started the article with speed kills – can’t teach speed. Williams has average NFL speed.

    Well some nfl draft prospect averages historically and then current players:
    Player Name…. 40 yard dash (4.55) 3 cone (7.1)
    Javonte Williams 4.55 6.93 (good)
    Kenneth Gainwell 4.44 (very good) 7.26 (below ave)
    Michael Carter 4.50 6.83 (excellent)
    Khalil Herbert 4.49 6.9

    Also said of Williams is that he can be an inconsistent decision maker but creates for himself through balance and power at contact and forces defenders to be near perfect with their technique to get him on the ground – then said: Similar to a more compact version of Leonard Fournette.

  18. Pewter941 Says:

    I would try and take Michael Carter from Carloina like in the 3rd or 4th rd

  19. SOEbuc Says:

    You’re soo lost with these RB early.

    Uno: Playoff Lenny was Payton Barber Lenny the entire regular season.
    Dos: Bucs are already stacked on RB this year and you don’t start at RB if you’re rebuilding through the draft.
    Tres: Bucs have second to last run/pass ratio. We already have a baller in RoJo and they don’t put him in!!!

    Trenches and CB first four rounds. Hoping we can get a steal on RB/WR Demetric Felton in the fifth or we have one more fourth. I think DT is not in total danger right now with return of RNR and Davis shows at least depth potential. Late first to mid second I like DE/OLB Joe Tryon who looks like a replica of JPP. Or C Creed Humphrey is a beast. A boss in the very serious C situation we’re in right now.

  20. Chance Says:

    Why is everyone so hell bent on us getting a RB???? We have 2 really good RBs and a rookie that has a lot of upside. We need a QB of the future that Tom can pass the franchise off to.

  21. BucBrady Says:

    No thanks. I’ll stick with 32 and take Harris or Etienne if available. If they aren’t then it’s time to compare the best available against Williams, and see which has the better upside.

  22. #1bucsfan Says:

    Joe I get your theroy but come on we need pass rushers and another DT to help compliment vea when suh takes off. I know he’s durable as hell but come on we need to get after the QB. THE OFFENSE IS STACKED YALL EVEN WITH INJURY EXCEPT TO BRADY. we got 2 starters at RB 4 starters at WR 3 starters in TE and have good back ups if our oline takes a hit. Where’s the JOE screaming for pass rushers. Lol

  23. Joe McGeehan Says:

    Swampbuc- I’ve always preferred, “You can’t fix stupid, but you can stun it with a 2X4.”

  24. lambeau Says:

    There will not be a DL or edge rusher worth drafting at #32; and the Bucs do have a hole to fill –a third down back who can protect reliably. I’m good with this pick at #32 or Carter in Round 2–prefer Williams as a little bigger, so maybe a little better blocker and more of a threat running between the tackles; Leonard really isn’t that great with swing screen passes, and the offense would really take off with that option added–plus Leonard almost got Brady killed failing to pick up blitzers.

  25. Bucanero Says:

    Impressive. I like this pick in 2nd round but not @32

  26. Mike Says:

    Brady will be outside the draft room with a sign that says “Looking for a pass catching RB please”…

  27. lambeau Says:

    The Bucs must be planning to draft an RB or I can’t see them letting James White go back to the Patriots for a paycut to $2.46 M. Arians speaks highly of Vaughn, but I can’t see relying on a guy who on ten targets had three drops, a fumble, and was out of position on a couple of incompletions.

  28. DaBux Says:

    I do not like his size or lake of pass blocking skills. If you can get Najae Harris (good pass blocker and Henry prototype) or Etienne, you go there first. Otherwise, just sign a UFA and go from there.

  29. DaBux Says:

    Lack, not lake. Danged greasy fingers.

  30. IrishMist Says:

    I like that he is a linebacker turned running back. Since we already have Devon White, who is a running back turned linebacker, this would give us a balanced attack.

  31. Swampbuc Says:

    Hey Joe McGeehan —


    A great improvement

  32. Blue Coffee Says:

    Mike Says:
    April 9th, 2021 at 2:45 pm
    Brady will be outside the draft room with a sign that says “Looking for a pass catching RB please”…

    LOL! Good point! With the history of Brady with James White, You are probably right! Ha! Ha!

  33. unbelievable Says:

    “Inconsistent decision at the line of scrimmage”… sounds like a guy dancing behind the line instead of hitting the hole.