Arkansas RB Jonathan Williams says he'll likely enter 2016 draft

Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams said Thursday he will most likely enter the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Razorbacks' 1,000-yard rusher had been expected to lead the Arkansas backfield this fall until he suffered a left foot injury in a scrimmage nearly two weeks ago. The injury will keep Williams off the field for the entire regular season, though Arkansas coach Bret Bielema left open the possibility that he could return for a bowl game.

"As far as my plans after this, if the rehab goes as planned, I'm looking forward to coming back strong and better than ever, and most likely going to the next level after this season," Williams said during a Thursday news conference.

Williams is a senior this fall, but because he did not redshirt as a freshman, his alternative option to the draft would be to take a redshirt this season and play for Arkansas as a fifth-year senior in 2016. Prior to Williams' injury, NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein rated him the No. 8 rusher in college football for 2015.

With running backs historically projecting to have the shortest careers among pro football players, college rushers can be, in turn, particularly quick to enter the draft. Former Alabama running back Eddie Lacy entered the 2014 draft as a junior in part because of a series of nagging injuries in college, and Williams' current injury is more than nagging.

Still, a potential return to action for an Arkansas bowl game in December or January could give Williams a strong opportunity to show NFL scouts a successful recovery. Williams is also on the Reese's Senior Bowlwatch list, which would give him exposure to NFL coaches and scouts in late January, about a month before the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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