Arkansas Pro Day report: David Williams looks for right situation

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Monday, March 26, 2018
David Williams, Arkansas running back, runs for a 24 yard touchdown after a catch in the fourth quarter against Missouri Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
David Williams, Arkansas running back, runs for a 24 yard touchdown after a catch in the fourth quarter against Missouri Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

— David Williams watched former Arkansas running back Knile Davis find success with the Razorbacks and Kansas City Chiefs. He’s always admired from afar.

On Monday he got a chance to pick Davis’ brain about the dos and do nots that go along with the NFL Draft process. He also lined up alongside Davis and caught passes out of the backfield during Austin Allen’s throwing period.

“He had a heck of a career in Kansas City and even in college,” Williams said. “I looked up to him growing up, seeing what he was able to do. We were talking the whole time. He looked good. He came in, looked the part - chiseled. He weighs like 235 (pounds) and moved fluidly.”

Williams and former Arkansas cornerback Henre Toliver trained at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas, leading up to Arkansas’ pro day in Walker Pavilion. An area he said he improved upon was his vertical leap. Williams was consistently at 28 inches before Monday, but jumped 30.5 inches in front of scouts and personnel from all 32 NFL teams.

He noted, jokingly, that he wasn’t sure if nerves played a role in his 21 reps on the bench press.

“They put extra weight on it or something, but it felt a little bit heavier than normal," Williams said.

Williams wants to end up in the situation that suits him best and places him in a position to have success, and said he felt like Monday helped his professional hopes.

As a running back in Bret Bielema’s pro-style system, Williams was able to impress scouts with his knowledge in meeting rooms as well as during the two-hour workout. He’s thankful to have learned from Bielema in his only season with the Razorbacks after transferring from South Carolina via the graduate transfer rule.

Williams was Arkansas’ most productive backfield option in 2017, finishing his career with his highest rushing totals as a Razorback over the team’s final two games. Williams finished with 113 total yards of offense and 3 touchdowns on 13 touches against Missouri in the season finale.

“It was amazing to be able to get coached up by (Bielema), who ran a pro-style offense, who knows what it takes to have multiple backs go to the NFL and be successful, it was an honor to come here and play for Arkansas,” he said. “It helped me a lot just being familiar with the offenses they run in the NFL.

“Me, sitting down in meetings, I just have a clear understanding of what's going on and scouts are impressed by that.”

Perception of Williams' pro potential began to change shortly after his Arkansas career came to a close. Not considered much of a draft prospect leading up to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January, Williams caught the eye of many, including Rick Serritella, an analyst for NFLDraftBible.com.

Among the facets of Williams' game he found noteworthy was his pass-catching out of the backfield. That rang true to many of the scouts on Monday, too, Williams said.

Serritella said power, vision and patience were among his other takeaways from Williams' week of practice in Pasadena, Calif.

"I spoke to a couple of scouts who think he could be a late-round sleeper, an under-the-radar guy. He could be a guy who tests better than people expect and boosts his draft stock leading up to the draft," Serritella told WholeHogSports in January. "I like how this guy is always moving forward, always propelling, even after the contact.

"He'll pick up an extra yard or two because he's always falling forward, and with his size that is going to appeal to NFL scouts."

Bijhon Jackson

There was conversation amongst several media members leading into players running the 40-yard dash as to what Bijhon Jackson’s time would be.

Jackson is a big guy. He was listed at 6-1, 339 pounds on the pro day program. The common guess was five-plus seconds, anywhere between 5.2 and 5.4 seconds, which still wouldn’t be a bad time.

“A couple of guys said they heard I ran a 5-flat, but I don’t know,” said Jackson, who had family, his fiancé Brianna Biehl and El Dorado High School football coach Scott Reed in attendance.

Jackson added that a wedding date has not yet been set. Jackson proposed at midfield prior to his final game with the Razorbacks.

"Obviously my near future is a little cloudy," he said. "Don’t know for sure what that’s going to hold but we’ll figure that out as time goes on."

He came away a bit disappointed in the number of reps he totaled on the bench, but otherwise was pleased with his day. Jackson’s 8-foot-4 mark in the broad jump was a personal best. That followed a 24-inch vertical.

Jackson said he surprised some of the scouts with his versatility during position drills.

“A lot of them feel I’m versatile, especially after the way I moved around today,” Jackson said. “They feel like I can play a zero or a three. Obviously I think nose guard is my more natural position but whatever.

“From a couple of scouts, I can play a zero, one or three and maybe in a three-front even move around to end a little bit.”

Josh Liddell

Josh Liddell did nothing at Arkansas’ pro day on Monday to hurt his chances of landing on an NFL roster in the future.

The former defensive back stepped into drills chiseled and with a bounce in his step.

Liddell is down 7 pounds from his playing weight last fall. He said dropping the weight has helped build more speed and explosiveness. Liddell also credited his look to work with Arkansas’ new strength staff led by Trumain Carroll.

He said it’s different than working out with former strength coach Ben Herbert and, not to take a shot at the previous regime, but he really liked the results.

One thing Liddell said he has been asked about quite a bit was not only his speed but playing on some pretty bad defenses in his time at Arkansas. He felt like his results answered questions about his speed on Monday and had a good day.

Liddell did 14 reps of 225 on the bench and said he could have done better, but he warmed up too close to when he actually got on the bench. He also heard that he ran in the 4.4s, but was not certain as of when he spoke with the media. His 36-inch vertical leap was the best of all participants, as was his 10-foot-9 mark in the broad jump.

Liddell graduated in December with a degree in sports management. Does that alleviate some of the pressure if football doesn’t pan out? Sure. He has a back-up plan.

“I just want to go back into working in sports some way somehow, maybe at a high school or university,” he said. “Administration, definitely. Any way I can get back into it. I love it.”

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