Williams went undrafted in 2018, but briefly spent time with the New York Jets before getting cut. The reason, according to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, was because of a lingering shoulder injury that required surgery.
“There’s no doubt he would’ve had a great chance of making it this year, but he has an injury, got DQ’d and then had surgery,” Malzahn said, according to AL.com.
Instead, Williams returned to Auburn as part of their recruiting staff.
As a player, Williams played in all four years at Auburn, starting most of the games in his final two seasons. He had a combined 117 tackles in his junior and senior seasons alone. In 2017, he earned second-team All-SEC honors.
The Lions signed linebacker Tre' Williams. Good-but-not-great numbers across the board. He figures to compete for a depth role. pic.twitter.com/loiPiwddoo— John Whiticar (@Whiticar) February 6, 2019
Note: Williams was not invited to the NFL Combine
Williams has solid athleticism numbers and it led to some pretty big hits. Consider this moment from last year’s Senior Bowl—an event in which Williams participated in despite being only “55-60 percent” healthy in the second half of his college year that season.
The Lions could certainly use some linebacker depth, and presuming that Williams’ shoulder injuries are thoroughly in the past, this is low-risk move for a player that could be hungry to make his first impression in the NFL.