It's time for yet another look at APC's projections for a second-year Packer. We covered Ryan Taylor last time, but tight end D.J. Williams gets today's analysis.
D.J. Williams is a riddle, wrapped up in a mystery, inside in an enigma. He's a very talented pass-catcher at the tight end position, and he won the Mackey Award as the best player at his position in the country for his efforts at Arkansas during his senior year. During his three years as a starter in college, he caught an average of 49 passes for 587 yards and over three touchdowns per season. He also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds, an excellent time for a tight end, and that no doubt contributed to him being the Packers' 5th round pick in 2011.
He's got limitations, however: he's not very big, at least not by NFL standards for tight ends. He stands 6'2" tall and weighs in around 245 pounds. His blocking needs work, and he really isn't much of an asset on special teams. And finally, many analysts projected him as more of an H-Back in the pros, which is a position that the Packers have only recently begun to utilize.
Kevin, PA, and I all feel a little differently about Williams. Kevin thinks the last TE spot comes down to him and Ryan Taylor, while PackApologist and I think he's competing more against Quarless' rehab than either Taylor or Tom Crabtree. In any case, I think it's safe to say that at least one of those four tight ends will not be on the opening day roster.
Depth Chart position in 2011: No. 4 tight end
Ceiling depth chart position in 2012: No. 2 tight end
Williams could have a stellar camp and assert himself as a presence in the offense. If he does so, he may be the number two option at TE (and the primary H-Back option), since he has better hands and is a more polished route runner than Ryan Taylor or Tom Crabtree.
Floor depth chart position in 2012: cut
If he doesn't impress compared to Taylor or Crabtree and if Quarless' rehab moves along quickly, Williams could find himself on the outside looking in, due to his lack of contributions blocking or on special teams.
2011 statistics: 2 catches, 13 yards
Ceiling statistics in 2012: 30 catches, 300 yards, 5 touchdowns
As the second tight end, Williams would be the beneficiary of all the other weapons on the offense, and he'll get balls thrown his way just because of the coverages. He can get separation from a lot of NFL linebackers and could be a good tertiary or check-down option for Rodgers.
Floor stats in 2012: none
Like Taylor, if you get cut you don't put up any stats.
Projected statistics in 2012: 10 catches, 100 yards, one touchdown
While the coaches are trying to stay positive about Quarless' return, I think he's a prime candidate for the PUP list and potentially another season on IR. That would allow Williams to make an impression over the first six games. I see him catching a handful of balls in that span, but I question how his smaller frame (for a pro tight end) will allow him to be a true deep threat down the seam. Call me overly conservative if you must, but there won't be many balls to go around after Jennings, Finley, Nelson, and Cobb get their catches.
Where do you think Williams ends up in Week one?