The Packers got another pass-catching weapon and D.J. Williams got the promise of a life neither he nor his family has ever known. Yeah, it’s a real good fit and an even better story.
Williams, 6-2, 251, from Arkansas, has overcome a lot more in his life than the lack of ideal size for a tight end. He and his mother overcame a dramatic story of domestic violence that chased the family from Dallas to Little Rock, Ark. A life of violence and poverty has now graduated to the bright lights of the NFL.
“We’ve been through a lot; came from nothing to where we are now and when we got a call from the Green Bay Packers, when we saw that name across the screen, it became reality and we are so thankful for it,” Williams told reporters assembled at Lambeau Field to cover day three of the Packers’ draft.
Williams was a star at Arkansas, where he was one of Ryan Mallet’s main weapons. Williams won the John Mackey Award last year. It is presented annually to the nation’s number one tight end.
The Packers, no doubt, were interested in Williams because he is the classic contemporary tight end Head Coach Mike McCarthy loves to feature. Williams was used in motion quite a bit by Arkansas Coach Bob Petrino. Williams lined up at fullback, as a true tight end, in the slot and split wide.
Packers tight ends coach Ben McAdoo described Williams’ in-line blocking ability as “functional.” Clearly, Williams was drafted mostly for what he’ll lend to the passing game.
“I really thought I was going to be off the board when Miami came up in the fourth (round),” Williams said. “It was a long wait. I do understand that my size was an issue. I’m not going to let it hold me back.”
Asked what he knows about the logjam of tight end talent on the Packers’ roster, Williams said: “I know they have a stud coming back who was injured. I’ve never been scared of competition in front of me.”
The “stud” to which he was referring is likely Jermichael Finley, who missed nearly all of last season with a knee injury.
“I was surprised he was on the board. We had a chance to sit down in Indy and talk. He’s a great guy,” McAdoo said of Williams. “When you turn the tape on, he was one of the best players on the field, no matter who they were playing.”
Arkansas plays in the SEC, where the competition, of course, is stiff.
He was described by McAdoo as possessing “big hands, natural hands. He’s coming out of a pro style. He is a confident natural hands-catcher.”
Williams would seem to be another example of a top-of-the-board, best-available-player pick by General Manager Ted Thompson.
“The board is a living, breathing animal. It kind of has its own heartbeat,” McAdoo joked.
Williams’ story is all about the heart.
“We lived in shelters for awhile, but when we moved into our house, that’s when we got a clean plate. I just want to get her out of the neighborhood we’re in in Little Rock, so she doesn’t have to lock the doors at night,” Williams said of his mother.
That might have to be put on hold awhile longer.
“I have no job and no money … maybe when the lockout is over,” Williams said.