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2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Utah FS Marcus Williams

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The Utes’ man at the back is slowly garnering a lot of hype.

Utah v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Today we’re going to take a peek at 2017 NFL Draft prospect Utah FS Marcus Williams.

He’s one of my favorite prospects in this draft class, and there’s plenty of reasons for that. Currently, the Los Angeles Rams have a hole at free safety. There’s been talk of moving current nickel CB Lamarcus Joyner back there on base downs, and then he’ll revert back into the slot on sub packages, which are played over 65% of the time in the NFL. So, technically, Joyner won’t be spending too much time at FS, regardless. That obviously poses a bit of an issue for the Rams, because they really don’t have anyone to plug in back there for 65% of the game. And I believe Maurice Alexander is actually a well-rounded player who plays better close to the line of scrimmage, which means the FS spot is up for grabs.

What better player to plug in back there than a rangy center fielder who makes routine plays on the ball and keys in on QB’s extremely effectively?

That’s where Williams comes into play. Just a bit of background on him, he’s only a 20-year old right now and turns 21 in September, making him one of the youngest players in the entire draft class. Williams measured in a 6’1” and 202 lbs. He had a very strong showing at the Combine, and he was a top finisher in four separate categories for DB’s — Vert - 43.5”, Broad - 129”, 3-cone - 6.85, 60 yard shuttle - 11.26. He also ran a 4.56 forty, which is solid for a safety. Now, these just look like a bunch of numbers with no context, but his explosion in his lower half is insane, and his agility testing was very good as well. Williams is an exceptional athlete on the back end. In three years at Utah, Williams nabbed 11 interceptions, and 10 of those came in the last two years.

Zach Whitman of 3sigmaathlete, throws in all the numbers from prospects and it spits out specific numbers to create a database to show, which players are superior athletes to each other. Williams ranked #4 in his safety class, coming in with a 132.9 pSPARQ score, a 1.4 z-score, and a 92.5 NFL%. Now, what do these all mean? Well, Zach says that a z-score of 0 and a 50 NFL% score are the average athlete in the NFL, and as seen by the numbers, Williams blows these figures out of the water. Since the numbers look great, lets jump into the tape.

Here is the first play to breakdown. It’s nothing insane, but for a guy who’s known as a deep FS who isn’t overly-physical and not an in the box safety, Williams lines up in the box on 4th and short, and sticks his head in to make the tackle even though the 4th down was converted.

On this play, Williams is in his usual position, lined up far and away from the line of scrimmage. As the QB rolls to his right, Williams is simply reading the QB’s movements. As the QB winds up to try and fit the ball into a small window for a TD, Williams shows us his range, closing speed, and ability to close on the ball in an instant. The window was non-existent after his break and he made a big play on the ball.

Here’s another play in a short yardage situation. Williams is a physical player, and though his tackling may look sloppy from time to time, he’s typically a reliable tackler taking down offensive players in any way he can. He wraps up on the QB here and drives him into the ground making sure he remembers not to keep the ball again.

This is where Williams is most comfortable. He’s playing a deep half, and once again he reads the QB effectively breaking on the ball. Fortunately for the QB it was overthrown, but Williams’ presence deep down the field here forced it to be incomplete, and he routinely doesn’t allow anyone over the top of him.

The last play is a simple run where Williams works through traffic in the middle of the field and once again makes a play on the ball, but in a different manner. He punches the ball loose from the ball carrier, and even though they didn’t recover, he’s shown he has a knack for finding the ball and making plays on it, routinely.

No-one has a solid grip of where Marcus Williams is going to be drafted. Some people believe he could go late round 1, and his talent proves he very well could, but it’s more likely he goes on day 2. Some team in round 2 with a safety need could draft him, but he could also make it to round 3 with it being a super deep draft class. There’s a lot of different players, and a lot of different teams with needs for safeties who all do different things.

For a team looking for a rangy center fielder to put deep on the back end of the defense, Williams offers the best prospect in the draft outside of Ohio St. S Malik Hooker who is likely to be drafted very high.