Tight end D.J. Williams helped lead the Arkansas Razorbacks to the Allstate Sugar Bowl after the 2010 season. He’s expected to be a 2nd or 3rd round pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
Here are some of the pros and cons to drafting D.J. Williams. All stats are courtesy of CBSSports.com and ESPN.com.
Williams runs in the 4.6 range despite being 6’2″ and 251 pounds. He has a swift release from the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. He does need more practice fighting through a jam from a linebacker or safety. This should come with NFL experience.
Williams is fast enough to work all of the short and intermediate passing routes. He was not utilized heavily on deep routes at Arkansas, but should be able to run vertically in the NFL.
With the ball in his hands, Williams is capable of gaining extra yards after a catch. However he can be brought down fairly easily for his size. Williams tucks the ball away and has great ball security when running after the catch.
#2. Leadership and Mental Fortitude
Williams was awarded with the 2010 Disney Spirit Award. The honor celebrates athletes who inspire and was given for Williams’ triumph over a difficult childhood.
As a child, Williams suffered abuse from his biological father who is now serving prison time for multiple charges. Williams has become a regular motivational speaker who talks about overcoming hardships and denouncing domestic abuse.
#3. Excellent Route Running and Hands
Williams runs very clean, crisp routes. He knows how to use his head and body to fake defenders out and gain separation. He catches the ball with his hands, but will use his body to shield the ball from defenders if necessary.
Williams had at least 50 catches in 2 of his 4 seasons at Arkansas. He also caught 3 or more touchdowns in 3 of his seasons.
#1. Needs Improvement as a Blocker
Because of his size, Williams struggles at times as a blocker. He needs some improvement in his blocking technique and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to be put on an island as a blocker in the NFL. He doesn’t have enough strength to hold up against NFL-caliber defensive linemen.
However Williams does give outstanding effort when he’s blocking. He’ll stay with his assignment and is willing to hustle downfield to make a 2nd block.
Williams will probably need to go to a system that will allow him to see pass-catching opportunities. The way that the Indianapolis Colts use Dallas Clark or the New England Patriots used Aaron Hernandez during the 2010 season are examples of how Williams could be successful.
Because Williams needs improvement as a blocker, I see him as a middle of the 2nd round to early 3rd round pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Since he won’t be an every down player, it will be difficult for him to be drafted in the 1st round. Although Williams will likely polish his blocking skills some in the NFL, he’s probably not going to be a dominant blocking tight end. But Williams should be fairly successful as a receiving tight end.
CBSSports.com D.J. Williams’ Player Profile. January 23rd, 2011.
ESPN.com D.J. Williams’ Player Page. January 23rd, 2011.