On the surface, the fresh faces in the Green Bay Packers’ backfield have little in common.
Fourth-round pick Jamaal Williams of BYU is a sleek 213-pounder.
Fifth-round pick Aaron Jones of UTEP, at 5-foot-9 1/8, is the shortest running back ever drafted by Ted Thompson.
Seventh-round pick Devante Mays of Utah State is in the Eddie Lacy mold at 230 pounds.
Undrafted free agent Kalif Phillips of Charlotte, who was signed immediately after the draft, is a fraction of an inch taller than Jones at 5-foot-9 3/8.
Undrafted free agent William Stanback of Virginia Union, who was signed after trying out at the rookie camp, is in the Lacy mold at 231 pounds.
There is, however, one tie that binds together these players: College defenders had a hard time taking them down.
Pro Football Focus has data for the four big-school backs: Williams, Jones, Mays and Phillips. Williams averaged 3.31 yards after contact, Jones averaged 3.98, Mays averaged 5.16 and Phillips averaged 3.78.
— Mays’ final season was ruined by a knee injury sustained during the second game of the season, and he wound up carrying the ball only 37 times. Had he been able to maintain that after-contact pace, he would have led the draft class by a wide margin; of the 70 running backs listed by Pro Football Focus, West Virginia’s Tarlyon Gipson ranked No. 1 with 4.56 yards after contact.
— Jones ranked fourth among PFF’s 70 running backs. Jones was the 19th running back selected. Of the 18 picked ahead of him, only Florida State’s Dalvin Cook (second round, Vikings) had more yards after contact than Jones (4.19 to 3.98).
— Phillips tied Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara (third round, Saints) for ninth out of 70 backs. Of the 29 running backs who were drafted, Phillips’ after-contact average beat all but five of them.
— Williams ranked 24th out of 70 backs. Among the backs Williams beat were Leonard Fournette (first round, Jaguars), Christian McCaffrey (first round, Panthers), James Conner (third round, Steelers) and Samaje Perine (fourth round, Redskins), all of whom were drafted before Williams.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.