Karlos Williams: Most Efficient Red Zone RB in 2015 Draft?


Jan 1, 2015; Pasadena, CA, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Karlos Williams (9) celebrates making a touchdown against the Oregon Ducks during the first half in the 2015 Rose Bowl college football game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Running back is one of the deepest and most undervalued positions in the 2015 NFL Draft class. A group of prospects highlighting the new era of rushers to come into the league at a time where general managers are increasingly drafting backs later and later, with former first round talents slipping into the second round or further as front offices are beginning to find the position more expendable in a passing league.

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That does not mean that running back is not going to be one of the biggest positions in 2015 when it comes to impact rookies however as a long list of star collegiate players are set to make a statement that rushers are still able to come into the league as gamebreaking rookies. Georgia’s Todd Gurley, Boise State’s Jay Ajayi and the Big Ten duo of Ameer Abdullah along with David Cobb looking to become stars in the league. Big names in the ACC in Duke Johnson and Karlos Williams adding further to one of the deepest positions of strength in this class even if the position is undervalued in the modern game.

Because of the deep pool of future talent at running back this year it is hard to determine just which running backs have the highest upside to bring to the table in the NFL, which makes things tricky for NFL front offices when they try to evaluate just which of a long list of top runners to select from if they draft a rusher at all.

numberFire (good friends of JustBlogBaby and an excellent analytical website for NFL or fantasy football fans) broke down the 2015 Draft class in terms of running backs who are the best threats in the the red zone this past week, coming up with two interesting names at the top of the list after crunching the numbers. None more interesting than Florida State’s Karlos Williams, who will be going into the draft as the best red zone threat in the 2015 running back class acording to numberFire’s numbers.

From numberFire: 

"Below, you will notice four different columns focused on different statistical points. The first column garners the percentage of red zone carries a specific running back had on his team. To be clear, this percentage of red zone carries only measures running backs attempts — no quarterbacks or other position’s attempts were used.The following columns are simply red zone carries, touchdowns, and those touchdowns inside of the 20-yard line divided by carries or red zone success rate (RZSR). The data is sorted in descending order by the highest red zone success rate score and the top scorer(s) in other categories are in bold.Finally, while some running backs such as Todd Gurley were starters for three years in college, others weren’t. To account for already small sample sizes, a running back must have had at least six red zone carries on a given year for that season to qualify. All of the statistics below are career numbers, and the data originated from the individual rushing situational splits at CFBstats.com."

NameTm% Tm RZ att.RZCarriesRZTDsRZSR
Karlos WilliamsFSU34.5%592033.9%
Jay AjayiBSU59.0%1444329.9%
Todd GurleyUGA38.0%902628.9%
Melvin GordonWIS49.1%842428.6%
T.J. YeldonALA43.3%1223327.0%
Josh RobinsonMiss. St.33.6%501326.0%
Ameer AbdullahNEB43.1%1283124.2%
Javorious AllenUSC49.2%631523.8%
Duke JohnsonUM37.2%771620.8%
Mike DavisS. Car.47.9%781620.5%
David CobbMINN64.8%811619.8%
Cameron Artis-PayneAUB44.6%821619.5%
Tevin ColemanIU41.7%531018.9%
Matt JonesUF30.5%54814.8%
David JohnsonUNIN/AN/AN/AN/A

While Williams is far from the best prospect in the 2015 Draft at running back (in all honesty lower ranked players such as David Cobb and Tevin Coleman could be argued to be higher regarded than the FSU back), it is intriguing to see that the Seminoles star is the most dangerous inside of the red zone in making the most of his touches during two deep runs in Tallahassee over the past two seasons. That 33.9% rate a big part of why FSU were so hard to knock off before their loss to Oregon in the CFB Playoff Semifinal ended a lengthy winning streak for the Seminoles in January.

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Beyond Williams the numbers of Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon confirm that the duo are the two most likely candidates to be the top running backs selected in the 2015 Draft, with Georgia’s Gurley potentially going inside of the first round. Gordon dominating in all areas of the field for Wisconsin, but especially inside of the 20 yard line as the best running back in the NCAA last season statistically with the Badgers after Gurley went down for the season with an ACL.

It is going to be a fun weekend to watch where running backs land next month as there are nearly 8-10 players who one day could be workhorses in NFL backfields in this draft class. Karlos Williams hopes to be one of those running backs, if NFL general managers pay attention to his red zone talents at finding the endzone at crucial times, he may just go early enough to get that opportunity after contributing to nearly unbeatable success with the Seminoles.