2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Pooka Williams


There have been plenty of occasions of players succeeding on poor teams. The first occasions that come to mind are Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson with the Detroit Lions. Examples of players performing highly on low-level teams are aplenty this year, and perhaps there is no bigger than Pooka Williams. In his two and a half years for the Jayhawks, Williams was only on the winning side of 5 of the 26 games he played. A lot of times, Williams was the only reason that Kansas was even in contention to win the game. He hasn’t been as high on draft boards due to the fact he played on the Jayhawks and his small stature. There are plenty of other traits that make Williams a better prospect than many expect.

Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

Player Bio

Name: Pooka Williams     

Jersey: #1

Position: Running Back


School: Kansas

Class: Junior

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 170 lbs

Vision (8.75/10)

Williams has very good vision. He is a patient runner that will wait for the offensive line to pave lanes. Williams has a good understanding of where his primary lane to run through is, as well as a cutback option if things get muddied in his primary lane. There were a few cases where Williams would be impatient with finding a hole to run to before it opened, and it resulted in him getting caught behind the line of scrimmage. Other than those select few times, Williams is very good in this regard.

Change of Direction (8.5/10)

One cut and go. That is how Williams runs. If he sees a lane, he jumps to, it and he is just about off to the races. He can cut on a dime and make a man miss if he so chooses.

Durability (8/10)

In three years at Kansas, Williams toted the ball 415 times and had 66 catches. If a team is in a pinch, they could use Williams as a three-down back. He had six games where he had more than 20 carries, and there was only one game where he carried the ball less than ten times.

Receiving Skills (8.25/10)

Williams is by no means a liability in the passing game. In his freshman and sophomore years, Williams averaged just about three catches per game. A lot of his catches were done via manufactured touches on bubble screens and when Williams was playing out wide as a receiver.

Ball Security (5.5/10)

Williams didn’t have a fumble during his collegiate career. The reason why this is so low is that there is a major fundamental problem in his game. Williams only carries the ball in his right arm, making it easier for defenders to potentially cause a fumble if he is running on the left side of the field. There was a case in one of the games watched where Williams had luckily crossed into the endzone just before the defender knocked the ball loose.

Elusiveness (8/10)

Surprisingly for a player of his size, Williams prefers to run through defenders instead of making them miss. This was especially the case in the 2019 game against Oklahoma. He bulldozed his way through a couple of defenders and was able to keep his balance for the majority of the attempt as he was plowing through the defenders. Williams can elude defenders with ease in either way.

Effort (8.5/10)

With Williams playing for the Jayhawks, he was the best player on the team. He was always fighting for extra yards, or even make it back to the line of scrimmage, for that matter. Williams played through a left foot injury during the 2020 season before opting out to declare for the draft.

Athleticism (9/10)

Williams seems to be a strong, lowly-built runner that has above-average breakaway speed. If Williams is given a crease, he is going to expose it and take it the distance. He can both run through and around defenders at any moment.

Balance (6.75/10)

There were plenty of times where Williams would get tripped up by a defensive lineman when there was an open crease. His small stature hurts him in this regard a lot, and he needs to have a solid offensive line in front of him that can help him make it past the first level and expose the second and third-level defenders.

Pass Protection (1/5)

Williams struggles in pass pro. He seemingly tries to throw his body into edge rushers when they get past the offensive line, putting his body more at risk. When Williams tries to go one-on-one with an incoming blitzer, it doesn’t end well for him. His small stature hurts him here as well.

Injury (4/5)

Williams seemingly gets dinged up just about every month. During the 2020 season, he left in the games against Coastal Carolina and Oklahoma State. Something that isn’t much of a concern that has to be brought up is the fact that Williams doesn’t have any toes on his right foot due to a lawnmower incident when he was a child.

Player Summary

In a top-heavy running back class, Williams could be drafted much higher than expected. His blend of speed, athleticism, receiving ability, and vision will have teams that run a zone run scheme much higher on him than others. His biggest weaknesses come due to his small stature, and his pass protection could be improved at the next level with more practice. Williams was seemingly the whole Kansas team, and it showed on film. Wherever Williams gets drafted to, it will be very interesting to see how they deploy him.

Final Grade (76.25/100): Early Fourth Round 

Player Comparison: Matt Breida

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Main Image Credit: 

Embed from Getty Images


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