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Broncos finish draft class by reaching 4-year contract agreement with 2nd-round running back Javonte Williams

The North Carolina product figures to split the ball-carrying workload with veteran Melvin Gordon. Williams is to receive a $3.81 million signing bonus.

DENVER — Melvin Gordon III managed to run out from the popular shadow of the diminutive Phillip Lindsay.

Only to turn the corner and run smack dab into more fierce running back competition, this time with a younger, fresher and bigger Javonte Williams.

The Broncos and Williams reached agreement on a four-year contract Friday. Nick Schiralli got his man.

“Javonte Williams, our national scout Nick Schiralli, who does an outstanding job, he gets to know these players inside and out, this was his favorite player in the draft,’’ Broncos general manager George Paton said in a sit-down interview with 9NEWS minutes after his first NFL Draft with the Denver franchise was completed on May 1. “Maybe not a Top 10 pick but his favorite player just from watching.

“He’s a three-down back. He’s really powerful," Paton said. "He has speed to take it the distance. The thing about him, he’s really hard to tackle. If you watch him, you see they have a hard time tackling him because he’s so physical, he’s built low to the ground. He breaks tons of tackles. He’s elusive in the open field. And he can pass protect. And catch the ball out of the backfield.

Credit: AP
North Carolina's Javonte Williams (25) runs the ball against North Carolina State during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

“So we feel he’s a three-down back who’s going to add to the room. I’ll keep talking about competition, but we wanted more competition in the running back room and with Melvin (Gordon) and Mike Boone and Javonte, I think we have as good a crew as any in the league.”

RELATED: Broncos rookie Javonte Williams a tough, smart running back

To land their new rookie running back, the Broncos traded up from the No. 40 overall pick in the second round to No. 35, where Williams’ signing bonus was slotted in at a robust $3.81 million. His done deal means the Broncos now have all 10 of their draft picks under contract. And it's just in time, as rookies report to training camp Saturday, along with quarterbacks and practice squad players from last season.

Williams split the running back position with the smaller Michael Carter in the previous two season at North Carolina, yet still rushed for a 2,073 yards on 6.4 yards touchdowns and 24 combined touchdowns.

RELATED: Broncos move up in 2nd round to draft running back Javonte Williams

Javonte Williams stats at North Carolina

Year … Class … A …….… Y … Y/C … TD .… C ...… Y … Y/C … TD

2018 … FR …… 43 ..… 224 … 5.2 ..…. 5 …… 8 ….. 58 … 7.3 ….. 0

2019 … SO …. 166 ..… 933 … 5.6 …... 5 ….. 17 … 176 … 10.4 … 1

2020 … JR ..… 157 … 1140 … 7.3 .… 19 ..… 25 … 305 … 12.2 … 3

Totals …….…. 366 … 2297 … 6.3 .… 29 ….. 50 … 539 … 10.8 … 4 

Gordon, who rushed for 986 yards on 4.6 yards last year – with 432 yards coming in his final five games – in his first season with the Broncos, has one year and $7 million left on his contract. Lindsay, who had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons to start his career with the Broncos before injuries halved his production last year, was released in March and signed with the Houston Texans.

It appears the Broncos’ plan is for Gordon and Williams to share the rushing workload in 2021 and then have Williams become the primary back in 2022.

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