NFL Scouts Will Be Looking For New Cadillac

The NFL has brought back the running back that can change the game with one touch. It used to be that 1,000 yards was impressive but 1,500 yards is the new landmark for excellence. The 2005 NFL Draft is touted as the year of the back but three tailbacks rank at or near the top of everyone's draft board.

Ask Jon Gruden about the best player he coached at the Senior Bowl and the answer was clear. He took an extreme liking to Carnell Williams, aka Cadillac.

"Cadillac Williams is exactly what people say he is," said Gruden. "He is a flash back."

And the Tampa coach, in line for his own upgrade at running back meant every word in a complimentary way.

Carnell Williams shares the same love for the Gruden as the Tampa coach had for him. After a week of practice at the Senior Bowl, Williams saw what it meant to be part of a Gruden coached team, funny faces and all.

"Coach Gruden shows a passion for playing this game," Williams admitted. "In just this one week I feel like I have been working with him for years. Working with him and his staff have been great.

"I see how Tampa Bay has had such a great organization just through coach Gruden. The attitude he brings, how he practices, he always has a smile on his face and he is just so passionate about the game of football. That carries over to the players."

Infectious. Williams, known as a hard worker throughout his college career, wants to be part of a team that exemplifies that winning attitude. Gruden was his first example of how it should be done but the Auburn back knows that other coaching staffs around the league bring the same enthusiasm to the game.

It is why one of the top ranked players in the NFL Draft decided it was in his best interests to participate in the Senior Bowl. He didn't need to elevate an already high draft slot, but the chance to work with an NFL staff, even for just one week, was too juicy too pass up.

"My first time being around an NFL coaching staff – I can see how they coach, the pace they go about practice – going into training camp I have a head start," Williams said.

It didn't hurt that Gruden exposed him to other sides of the game he may have been missing. In the Tampa offense, running backs are split out wide, in the slot, catching screens and doing a variety of things that Williams may not have seen during his Auburn career.

The ability to show his versatility on the practice field wasn't something that could be expressed in words, especially since scouts had questioned his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

"I had a great week of practice," said Williams. "I am the kind of person who believes you practice how you play."

And Williams can play.

As a senior, Williams gained 1,165 yards on 239 carries with 12 touchdowns. He also added 21 receptions out of the backfield. As a junior he tallied over 1,300 yards on the ground and scored 17 times.

Mimicking his game after his idol Walter Payton, Williams is a runner who fights for the extra yard and is tough to tackle. He won't burn the rubber on the track but he finds a way to get through holes with a quick burst and excellent vision.

As impressive as he was on the field, Williams' goal was to also be affecting off the field.

"You are trying in any way possible to impress," he said. "In college you kind of know that you are the man. It is as important to impress them with your personality as it is on the field.

"They really want to get to know your personality, your past background. I have gone in meetings where they have asked about your family, whether you have been arrested, a DUI, all kinds of stuff. Ultimately, I think it comes down to what you do on the field."

Steel City Insider Top Stories