One of the biggest undrafted free agent signings Cincinnati got done this year was that of Kentucky running back Stanley “Boom” Williams.
Coming into the NFL Draft, Williams was ranked 151st overall by ESPN’s Mel Kiper, which would have put him in the Round 5 range. However, Williams failed to hear his name called at any point before the Bengals quickly signed him after the draft ended.
Now, Kiper is tabbing Williams as Cincinnati most notable UDFA signing and one of the 25 best undrafted players to watch.
Stanley 'Boom' Williams, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Final Big Board rank: 151
I was surprised Williams, who left Kentucky with a year of eligibility remaining, wasn't drafted. He was my No. 21-ranked back and averaged 6.9 yards per carry in his career. At 5-7, 190, however, he was never going to be a lead back in the NFL. Williams could fill a role, though, and there is uncertainty about Giovani Bernard, who's coming off a torn ACL. Cincinnati also picked up Joe Mixon in the second round.
The 5’9”, 196-pound Williams tallied 3,314 career all-purpose yards during his three-year college career, including 38 receptions for 292 yards and two scores. He also chipped in 511 kickoff return yards.
Williams finished his collegiate career with 2,511 rushing yards, including 1,170 rushing yards in his final season. That included a career-high 182 rushing yards vs Missouri. The big-play Williams averaged 6.84 yards per carry last season after going for 7.10 in 2015.
Getting a game-breaking running back like Williams as an UDFA seems too good to be true, but he still has his work cut out for him. His smaller frame will make it hard for him to hold up in the NFL, and he’s got a tough task of lasting in Cincinnati’s crowded backfield.
Jeremy Hill and Joe Mixon are near locks to make the final roster, and Cedric Peerman is a special teams ace, boosting his chances of making the roster. The big question is with Giovani Bernard. Recovering from a torn ACL, Bernard could open the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which could allow Williams to sneak onto the initial 53-man roster.
There’s also the chance Williams just explodes in the preseason and makes it impossible for the Bengals to cut him in favor of a limited veteran like Peerman. We saw this play out last year when UDFA Alex Erickson took the incumbent veteran Brandon Tate’s roster spot as a receiver/kick returner.
Perhaps we’ll see Williams do the same this year.