NFL Draft Football

Denver Broncos fans react during the third round of the NFL football draft Friday, April 30, 2021, in Cleveland.

The Broncos drafted The Horseman.

Perhaps, to be positive, Javonte Williams could someday be another Floyd Little or Terrell Davis.

Williams said Friday evening he was familiar with Davis, but unaware of Little. Javonte was born this week in 2000.

He’ll know all about the Broncos’ two Hall of Fame running backs by Saturday when Williams comes to Denver for the first time.

The University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) load was seized 35th overall, third in the second round, by the Broncos, who were so mesmerized by Williams and so fearful he would be gone by their 40th pick George Paton traded up to the Falcons’ slot.

The selection won’t make Broncos’ believers soon forget Justin Fields, Aaron Rodgers or Phillip Lindsay, but they may commit Williams’ name to memory permanently.

This was the possible perfect pick.

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Although the Tar Heel through-and-through was chosen as the third running back behind the nationally renowned Najee Harris of Alabama and Travis Etienne of Clemson, who were drafted in the first round, the Broncos and football wiseniks outside Colorado think Williams could be the superior of the three in the NFL.

As a junior last season, Williams, sharing space with Michael Carter, finished with 1,140 yards, a 7.3-yard per carry average and 22 touchdowns as a runner-receiver.

He is a Big Little Man at 5-9 5/8 and 220 pounds.

He makes people miss. In 2020 Williams broke 75 tackles, the high mark in college ball.

Williams began riding horses at 5 in Wallace, N.C. Son of a barber and a school teacher, Williams owned his own horse in high school, but had to give up it up when he went off to school. During the quarantine last year Williams, who loves wearing cowboy hats and boots, acquired a horse and was given another at Christmas.

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Javonte should fit in in Colorado.

And Williams will fit in with the Broncos as a supplement and eventual replacement to Melvin Gordon III (who has only one more season on his contract) and most likely an immediate alternative ahead of Royce Freeman, Mike Boone, LeVante Bellamy, Jeremy Cox and Damarea Crockett.

Paton said Williams will be a quality three-down back, and the team must have been persuaded by running backs coach Curtis Modkins, who attended the Williams Pro Day. Modkins has been around – with seven NFL teams and three college programs in a quarter century.

In franchise history, the Broncos now have drafted 15 running backs in the first two rounds – and Davis in the sixth round in 1995. Clinton Portis, Otis Armstrong, Gerald Willhite and Knowshon Moreno were the best of the rest. Williams is about the height of Floyd, who sadly died on Jan. 1 of this year, and six pounds heavier than Terrell.

If Williams can become a thousand-yards-a-year runner and a reliable third-down receiver, then Paton, to use his term, hit the bullseye with this dart. If Williams becomes Montee Ball, Paton will be reminded regularly of his error.

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Nevertheless, Javonte is one of the good guys and will be a welcomed addition to Dove Valley. Maybe he will stable his horses in Elizabeth south of Denver.

In Wallace, a sort of one-horse town of 4,000 in southeast North Carolina, Javonte, who was nicknamed “Little Pookie’’ because his dad was called “Pookie’’, became a UNC fan as a kid and asked for the school’s Carolina blue football uniform for Christmas.

In high school Javonte was ordered to play linebacker because he was considered squatty and slow. Nobody recruited Williams, though, so his coach switched him to running back as a senior to provide hope. Javonte considered quitting football and attending North Carolina strictly as a student.

He was the school’s Valedictorian with a 4.6 grade-point average.

And as Wallace-Rose won its fourth straight state championship, Javonte had his most spectacular performance, and North Carolina offered him a scholarship on the spot.

At the conclusion of his college career, Williams saved his greatest game for last December against the University of Miami. He rushed 23 times for 236 yards (10.26 yards per), with a 65-yard run, and scored three touchdowns.

Williams told the Colorado media Friday that he considers himself “definitely’’ the most exceptional running back in the draft. “I’ve always been overlooked’’ his entire life, he said.

He was not ignored in the draft by the Broncos. They drafted a man called Horse.

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