With the draft now well and truly behind us, it's time to reflect on a few of Ted Thompson's selections as the lockout continues to derail the NFL's plans. I spoke briefly last week on the Packers passing on a quarterback, but after contemplating the rest of the board, another farfetched pick stands out.
Yep, it's at tight end.
It's not so much that Thompson's selections were poor (they certainly weren't), it's the overall need for two rookie tight ends that has me bothered. With Jermichael Finley undoubtedly returning next season and Andrew Quarless also showing that he has what it takes to handle a much more expanded role, the necessity for another tight end is a little puzzling at best.
However, as questionable as it is, there's been a buzz around Titletown towards fifth round pick D.J Williams. Analysts believe the Packers found a late round steal, although others believe he is nothing more than a future backup receiver at best. In this article, I will discuss the pros and cons of Green Bay's newest recruit.
I'm pleased that the Packers have recruited a player who has been compared to Dustin Keller. I'm also pleased that Green Bay have recruited a tight end who is fast and athletic, the same characteristics Donald Lee often lacked before being released by the team earlier this year.
Though aside from what we already know, according to NFL.com, Williams may be capable of making a move to halfback somewhere down the track in his career. This means Green Bay could potentially gain another runner of John Kuhn's size, while also featuring a half back capable of making catches in the backfield.
The other positive is obviously the blocking presence. Williams weighs 251 pounds, and in comparison to Finley (247lbs) and Quarless (254lbs) the Packers now have a good mix of light and heavy to dish out depending on their opponent.
The final pro I like about Williams is his commitment to the catch. It's seems fairly mundane, I know, but Williams is known for his ability to make the catch before turning in his route, a skill many rookie receivers are yet to possess. He is also said to play very well against zone defenses.
I like the Williams pick as it gives the Packers plenty of options to play with. He's a halfback if Mike McCarthy wants him to be, but he's also a tight end who could be used in short yardage situations. Kuhn has become an elite power runner for Green Bay, yet his receiving game is often unseen. Therefore, I expect Williams to fill in that missing link.
Williams is fairly short for a tight end. In fact, it almost makes me wonder how he won the John Mackey Award in the first place. However, Williams is only six foot two, and while he is no dwarf, it is a common fact that Aaron Rodgers likes to throw plenty of deep passes each season whether it be from in or out of the pocket.
That leads me to my next point: vertical leap. The Packers postseason was the epitome of a good aerial assault, especially from the likes of James Jones and Greg Jennings. Yet with Williams fairing a little on the heavy side, along with being a little short, it would be unfair to expect a great deal of jump balls from him in the future.
(Just another reason why he would make a great halfback)
Lastly, Williams won't grant the Packers a target in the middle of the field. Luckily McCarthy has Finley and Quarless to cover that task, but again, the jump ball problem will limit Williams severely on slant routes and the open field.
Overall, Williams has a list of minor issues to correct. His hips are stiff, he has slow production off the line, and at times penalties are an issue (the last thing the Packers want to hear).
So Is He a Late Round Steal?
The myth has been busted, because the size factor will never disappear. I found it hard to refer to Williams as a "steal" due to the fact that Finley and Quarless were already a part of the Packers roster, but perhaps others see something in him I simply can't.
With that said, Williams may be a steal due to his versatility as a potential halfback. The future of Ryan Grant remains to be seen after this season, and although James Starks looks promising, I advise you not to hold your breath after just one solid season.
It's hard to question Thompson's picks after winning a Super Bowl. Williams could pay off at a different position, but at tight end things could become ugly due to the competition factor alone.