Bengals add intrigue to running back position with nimble Pooka Williams

Running back Pooka Williams Jr. #1 of the Kansas Jayhawks (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Running back Pooka Williams Jr. #1 of the Kansas Jayhawks (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

The Bengals signed Pooka Williams as an undrafted free agent and it was quite the steal. Williams can give Cincinnati another option at running back for the 2021 season and beyond.

As the Bengals look to improve their offense for the 2021 season, the run game added some talent both through the draft and through undrafted free agency. One of the most intriguing names added to the Bengals’ roster over draft weekend was a UDFA by the name of Pooka Williams, who spent three years at Kansas and was one of the few bright spots for the program.

Williams made his presence known right away for a lackluster Jayhawks offense, rushing for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman in 2018. Williams wasn’t just great as a runner, but he was able to catch passes out of the backfield as well, grabbing 33 receptions for 289 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

While his sophomore season didn’t see him posting as big of numbers, Williams was still impressive, totaling 1,061 yards and three touchdowns on the ground with 214 yards and two touchdowns through the air.

Williams opted out four games into his final season at KU but it’s hard to ignore how phenomenal he was during his first two years in Lawrence, especially considering that he had virtually no help from his offensive line whatsoever. He has competition in Cincinnati but don’t be surprised if Williams is able to make his way onto the 53-man roster.

Pooka Williams gives the Bengals yet another option at running back.

The Bengals aren’t hurting for talent at the running back position. Joe Mixon is still the starter moving forward as he enters his fifth year with the team. Mixon was injured last year but had rushed for over 1,100 yards in each of the previous two seasons so he’s the unquestioned starter heading into 2021.

Williams isn’t threatening to be the starting running back in Cincinnati at all. Rather, he could be a nice third option in a running back committee, which is what his draft profile on The Draft Network said his ideal role would be in the pros.

Mixon is going to get the majority of the carries, but Williams could still find be someone utilized when Mixon needs a breather. It won’t be easy for Williams to get to that point right away, as the Bengals took Chris Evans out of Michigan in the sixth round, giving them another weapon at running back.

More than likely, Cincinnati’s depth chart will probably be led by Mixon, Evans, and Samaje Perine with Trayveon Williams mixed in there as well. Pooka Williams will have his work cut out for him when it comes to actually making the roster but considering what he was able to do at Kansas of all places shows that he’s scrappy and can be a big playmaker on offense. He had very little help from his offensive line or his quarterback during his KU days and still managed to put up massive numbers.

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The Bengals are in a good spot with their run game and while Pooka Williams certainly has an uphill battle ahead of him, there’s a lot to like about this kid and what he can provide this offense.