Posted on August 22, 2016, by Travis Pulver
It’s a shame when a promising college talent is taken high in the draft and ends up being a failure, but at least his failure can be explained. Lots of guys look great in college but can’t step up to the speed and intensity of the professional game. Sometimes you just don’t know if a college player is going to be able to have the same kind of success in the NFL until he gets there.
But that wasn’t the case with former Buffalo Bills running back Karlos Williams who has been let go by the Bills after having a successful rookie season.
As a fifth-round draft pick in 2015, he surpassed expectations when he ran for over 500 yards on 93 carries, but it was his nose for the end zone that gained him a lot of notoriety. With at least one touchdown in each of his first six games, he tied a rookie scoring record (had seven).
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The stage was indeed set for a promising career to grow. Even though Williams would be playing second-fiddle to LeSean McCoy, Rex Ryan likes to run the ball and prefers to use two guys in order to keep one from getting overworked. So while he would not be the primary back, he would get a chance to show what he can do. Someone, if not the Bills, would be willing to pay him well once his rookie contract expires.
If he could continue to play well of course–but when he reported to camp grossly overweight it didn’t look good for him. How fat was he? The Bills listed him at 229 pounds but he reported at 261. To top it off, he didn’t really take responsibility. He blamed his weight gain on his pregnant fiancé (via ESPN.com):
“I like to eat and then her being pregnant gave me an excuse to eat, so eating anything and everything. She’d wake up, one or two o’clock, ‘I want a snack.’ Well, I’m not going to sit here and watch you eat because I don’t want you to feel bad…”
That’s all good and fine, but as a professional athlete, it is still his responsibility to keep his body in peak physical condition. If he wanted to eat with her, that’s fine, but he should have been hitting the gym or track a little bit harder to make up for the extra calories. With the amount of weight that he gained, you have to wonder if he was working out at all. As a professional athlete, he certainly should have been.
The Bills were not happy with him, but they knew he had potential hidden behind those extra pounds and said they would be standing behind him. It didn’t help when news of his four-game drug-related suspension hit, but still—they were standing behind him. But then the scale started to trend the wrong way during camp.
After losing some of his extra weight to start camp, he began to get it back. That made the team wonder just how dedicated he was to the game. Coupled with his drug suspension and the emergence of other players, he became dead weight on the roster.
So they cut him loose.
While being out of work sucks, Williams is actually in decent “shape” here. Under normal circumstances, he would have a couple weeks till the regular season starts which would not be enough time to lose enough weight (safely). But combine those couple weeks with another four weeks due to his suspension, and he could make significant progress towards getting back to his playing weight. It will require him to put in some serious work, which will help teams believe he is indeed serious about playing. He will probably not be able to get rid of all of it, but he could certainly get the scale trending in the right direction.
So if he makes the most of his time, he could end up in a position to choose where he plays; something many players wish they could do early in their careers. If he doesn’t, he’ll become the definition of wasted talent and a blown opportunity.