After backing up 12 spots, the Green Bay Packers grabbed Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams with the 10th selection of the fifth round.
Regarded as one of the elite pass catchers at his position in the collegiate ranks, Williams’ remarkable progress on the gridiron saw him capture the john Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end, during his final season with the Razorbacks.
Over his final three seasons, he caught 147 passes for 1,761 yards and 10 touchdowns. Packers tight ends coach Ben McAdoo said Williams always was one of the best players on the field, regardless of competition, and he’s got arguably the best hands in this class of tight ends. McAdoo said Williams has big hands and is a natural hands catcher.
According to Packer Report contributor Dave-Te Thomas, the longtime personnel analyst for NFL Scouting, “scouts realize that Williams isn’t your classic inline tight end due to his lack of size and will be better suited in an H-back role at the next level. But, he possesses very reliable hands and enough speed and balance to gain separation as a route runner. Once the ball is in his hands, the heart and determination of this athlete is evident, as he simply runs hard through tackles and fights for extra yardage.”
At just 6-foot-2, he’s not a traditional tight end but McAdoo said he has a “chance to do everything” the Packers ask of their tight ends, from lining up as a tight end to motioning into the backfield to be split out wide.
Williams is a deeply religious person due to an upbringing that he compared to “sandpaper.” He has cited the “Passion of the Christ” as exemplifying the way he and his mother, Vickie Williams, and his two sisters overcame his abusive father. His childhood plight gained national attention during ESPN’s broadcast of the 2011 Sugar Bowl. On a night after Vickie Williams' husband beat her, Vickie spread a map on the table in front of her children, and little D. J. pointed to Little Rock, Arkansas, as the place to which they should move to get away from his father.
It was a “clean slate,” Williams said, recalling of his life as a fourth-grader.
“He’s obviously a strong person, character-wise,” McAdoo said.
“No matter what life throws at you, it’s how you respond,” Williams said.
Later, the Packers traded their own fifth-round pick, No. 163 overall, to San Francisco for pick No. 174 (ninth pick of sixth round) and No. 231 (30th pick of seventh round). That means the Packers have three sixth-round picks (174, 186, 197) and two seventh-round picks (231, 233).
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