With the 42nd overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints have selected Utah safety, Marcus Williams. The Saints have gone back to bolstering their porous pass defense by doubling up on the secondary in this draft. In Williams, they get a versatile free safety that can also support the defense at corner, filling a pair of needs for the Saints. Despite picking up a player at areas of need, the fans will be dying for the Saints to bolster the pass rush with their third round picks later this evening.
Here is a look at the newest Saint, from NFL.com:
Utah's secret to football success has been their coaches' ability to find three-star recruits out of California to make the trip to Salt Lake City. Williams, a Corona native, continued that trend and contributed immediately, starting six times as a true freshman (59 tackles, INT, two forced fumbles.) In 2015, he started every game, garnering first-team all-conference (66 tackles, five INT, five pass breakups), and academic all-conference honors (4.0 high school GPA). Williams missed time in 2016 with an injury but still was named second-team All-Pac-12 with 64 tackles, five interceptions and three pass breakups.
STRENGTHSAthletic and instinctive from high safety. Easy hips with smooth feet in his backpedal. Able to play from deep positioning and still make plays on the ball. Good recognition of quarterbacks intentions gives him a head-start on the throw. Has desired open-field speed to close from hash to sideline. Former basketball player and high-jumper with the leaping ability and timing to win the 50-50 throws. Posted 10 interceptions against 44 targets over last two seasons. Productive tackler and careful finisher. Steps downhill against the run. Leverages ball carriers to the sideline and rarely lets him cross back over into middle of the field. Gathers feet and widens out to unfurl a wider tackling net.
WEAKNESSESNeeds to add some muscle on his slim frame. More of a finesses safety than hitter. Takes the worst of it in one-on-one tackles. Can be dragged along for additional yardage. Plays with a hitch in his transition from backpedal. Occasionally follows quarterback's eyes too carefully and can be manipulated.
DRAFT PROJECTIONRounds 2-3
NFL COMPARISONJustin Simmons
BOTTOM LINEBall-hawking free safety who has outstanding ball skills and has shown a propensity for causing turnovers. He can play from a high centerfield spot and utilizes his instincts to swoop down and challenge throws. He's able to get running backs down, but hes not physical enough to be a combination safety. NFL teams love defensive backs with athletic traits, instincts and ball skills. If he works out well before the draft, he should move up team boards.
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