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Boom Williams is a special running back, we all know that. At any given moment, he has the ability to bust out a touchdown run from anywhere on the field, and has single handedly placed the team on his back on countless occasions while suited up in blue and white. From his first big "Boom" moment against Florida two years ago, where he bounced from sideline to sideline en route to a touchdown to take the lead in OT, to his 43-yard gem against USC on Saturday, the kid is fascinating to watch, and has easily placed himself among the elite running backs in UK football history.
He came in rated as one of the highest ranked recruits in UK history back in 2014, and just like that he has the opportunity to head off to greener pastures this offseason should he decide to do so, announcing for the NFL Draft following his third year at Kentucky. Sucks, right? Even with the emergence of Benny Snell, and a stable of other talented backs, losing Boom this offseason would be a major blow to the Kentucky offense next season.
Let's take a look at the pros and cons for Boom Williams' ability as an NFL running back, at least after this season:
This is without a doubt his greatest strength, and very well could be the main reason he makes it in the NFL. It doesn't matter the defense Williams has been up against, he has managed to produce at an elite level. Before arriving on campus, there were reports of Boom running a 4.3 40-yard dash, and he has lived up to that hype as a speed guy here at Kentucky. Though NFL defenses are faster and stronger, Boom has more than enough top level speed to create separation and take one to the house, even in the big leagues. The kid has "it" and would use it to make his mark on the league.
We've seen it a little bit in his collegiate career, but Boom as a consistent pass catcher would be about as terrifying for opposing defenses as you could get. He has totaled just three receptions for 23 yards this year, but has combined for 33 receptions, 259 yards, and a touchdown in his time at UK. Shane Vereen, Dion Lewis, Danny Woodhead, Devonta Freeman, etc., are making a living off of catching passes out of the backfield in the NFL, and Boom could easily add that dimension to his game. Dion Lewis was unbelievable for the Patriots last season in this category before going down with injury, not due to sheer speed, but his shiftiness to elude defenders. Boom has a unique combination of both, and with the ball in his hands with open space out of the backfield, he would be dangerous for any team in the NFL.
On that note: Hey, Eddie Gran! Try using Boom on dump passes out of the backfield, because I think it'd be really awesome. Thank you.
This may cause a stir given some of the mid-season issues Boom had last year, but the Georgia native has the passion for the game that could allow him to flourish in the league. After the Florida game this year, Williams looked about as distraught and heartbroken you could get, barely speaking up and being extremely down on himself, taking the loss to heart. After big victories, Boom has always been the first person to bounce up and celebrate, firing up his teammates and fans, yet always mentions the things he can improve on and always tries to get better. Those that accept being "okay" never make it in a league full of driven guys fighting for a roster spot. Boom has proven he has that same drive for greatness.
When Boom hits a hole, he hits it hard, and not many people can stop him from that point on. Blame it on UK's lack of talent and depth on the offensive line in recent years, but there have been a ton of instances where he'll wait too long for the play to develop, dance in the backfield, and get swallowed alive behind the line of scrimmage. If there's a huge hole set up by the linemen, he makes something special happen, but if not, he tends to struggle. He's improved in this department tremendously thus far in the season, really improving his vision to make something out of nothing, so this may not end up being a con by the time his career as a Wildcat is over. Regardless, his decision making needs some fine-tuning before he plans on having success in the big leagues.
When Boom finds open space and takes off, he has a tendency of running out of gas against some of the elite defenses UK has gone up against. He's had a few 70+ yard home run balls against weak competition, but when the defense presents a significant challenge, he gets winded and slows down at the end of runs, falls to the ground or runs out of bounds.
Beyond individual runs, he's had to wave himself out in countless games when the work load increases and the team needs him, something that won't fly when he gets to the big leagues. It's normal to get tired, everyone does it on every level. That being said, it can't be at this same rate.
In the NFL, defenders will easily be able to catch him on any breakaway runs, so coasts to the end zone like against Charlotte and Louisiana Lafayette just won't happen unless he improves on his endurance. On the plus side, this is an easy fix and can certainly improve in time.
The lifespan of a typical NFL back is short. Really short. Even the guy we all believed to be Superman in the flesh, Adrian Peterson, is somehow managing to deteriorate. He bounced back from one of the most miraculous recoveries in NFL rehab history after tearing his ACL five years ago and (somehow) led the league in rushing the year after, but has continuously found himself tattered and beaten up since then. Even the greatest fall at some point or another.
Boom has already battled injury numerous times in his Kentucky career, and it seems nearly every game he goes down for at least a short period of time with bumps and bruises. What's going to happen when he's getting drilled by some of the biggest, fastest, and strongest humans in the world?
This kind of goes hand in hand with the injury issues above, Boom is tiny. 5'9, 195 lbs. tiny. Sure, he can maneuver around and snake through a good portion of defenses, but what happens when he starts going up against NFL defenses? Tyler Ulis is already proving people wrong in the NBA with his size (or lack thereof), but we'll have to see if Boom can do the same in the NFL.
For selfish reasons, I obviously hope Boom decides to return for his senior year at UK. He's already impressing thus far in the season, ranked second in the SEC in rushing yards with 464 on eight yards a carry, but Boom as a senior would place him not just among the best running backs to ever play at Kentucky, but one of the best players in UK history.
My gut, however, says he'll leave, impress at the combine, and get drafted in the 4th or 5th round. He has the talent and potential to make it in the NFL, and I think he realizes this and decides to take the next step.
What do you think? Will we have to say goodbye to Boom this offseason?