Lions Sign Productive Former SEC Running Back to Roster

Jonathan Williams

Getty Jonathan Williams celebrates a score.

The Detroit Lions have a ton of depth at running back, but after the frustration of losing lots of players in 2019, they don’t look to be making the same mistake in 2020.

Monday, the team revealed they had signed running back Jonathan Williams to the team. The Lions worked Williams out late last week, and decided that the time was right ahead of camp to sign the running back to the roster to add to the depth at the position. Running back Wes Hills was waived as part of the swap.

Williams comes to Detroit after playing his college football at Arkansas. In the NFL, he’s seen time with the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts before being released this offseason into free agency.

Jonathan Williams Stats

Just 26, Williams has plenty of time left in the league and might have just gotten his feet wet toward making a big impact in 2019. Out of his 329 career rushing yards, 235 came late in the 2019 season with the Colts where he was activated and showed out big time. Despite that, the Colts didn’t bring him back for 2020, and Williams sat as a free agent until he was scooped up by the Lions.

Williams’ path to the roster might be narrow in Detroit considering the running back depth on the roster, but he will be able to give the team some quality snaps in the meantime and serve as depth in the new COVID world, where players could theoretically be lost off the roster at any time with the illness.

Lions Worked Out Running Backs Last Week

Thursday, the Lions brought 7 players in for workouts. Quite possibly the biggest name for the team was running back C.J. Prosise, formally of the Seattle Seahawks.

Detroit also worked out offensive lineman and former Michigan State Spartans prospect Brian Allen, offensive lineman Erik Magnuson who was a former Michigan Wolverine, cornerback Dominique Hatfield, defensive end Avery Moss, running back Troymaine Pope, and Williams, who obviously impressed them enough to stick around with the signing this week.

Obviously, the headliner of this entire bunch was Prosise, who is a talented runner when he is healthy and certainly a player who could add some punch to a crowded backfield situation in Detroit, but obviously, the Lions liked what Williams brought to the mix at this point a bit more. Few of the positions the Lions are looking at in terms of the players are needs, so Williams is a potential depth buy for the team in the meantime.

Lions Loaded at Running Back

Why look at running backs? It’s an interesting question. Detroit has a solid player on their team currently in Kerryon Johnson that they are developing. Johnson, however, has run into a few issues with injuries the last few years, so the team was looking for someone else that can be a solid running mate for Johnson moving forward. On the roster, Bo Scarbrough showed late last season that he could be a potential answer for the team in addition to Ty Johnson, but still, the Lions were looking for someone else to build around. That’s why they felt as if they may want to target the draft, which is where D’Andre Swift came in along with Jason Huntley later. The team could also look to free agency for another veteran running back, but now it seems as if the team is happy with what they have done to upgrade the backfield with the right amount of youth.

Now that the Lions have managed to add another running back and some pounding offensive linemen, the team is seemingly on the right track toward fixing one of their biggest problems of the last few years, and are deep at the position. Do they need some additional help and depth, though?

It’s clear the team wanted to add a bit more to the stable by signing Williams, who can take some of the load off their rookies and established players during training camp.

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