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2017 NFL mock draft: Marcus Williams to Buffalo Bills

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Williams is a springy athlete with a bright future as a free safety.

Marcus Williams is one of the most underrated defensive prospects in this draft class. He won’t be 21 until September but had a remarkable career at Utah over the past three seasons.

In 2015 and 2016, he had 10 interceptions — five each year — and broke up a combined eight passes.

But his success wasn’t just a product of the scheme was in or proper positioning.

Williams is a ridiculously dynamic athlete.

He had a 43.5” vertical and broad jumped 10’9”... quantifying the explosiveness he possesses in his legs. His three-cone time of 6.85 is tremendous for his 6’1”, 202-pound frame. He ran 4.56 in the 40.

Add in his 32 1/2” arms, and it’s easy to understand how Williams routinely covers a lot of ground... fast.

As a tackler, Williams doesn’t consistently lay the lumber, but he rarely whiffs. Although that doesn’t make for the most exciting highlight tape, it’s a desired combination in the NFL today when defenseless-receiver penalties are more prevalent than ever.

Williams is an immediate starter who will significantly help Buffalo’s pass defense, particularly on throws down the field, an area in which the team struggled last season.


Who was on our short list?

We strongly considered Washington cornerback Sidney Jones here. His film is impressive, and he brings a hard-nosed mentality to the field. His torn Achilles scared us away.

There aren’t any standout right tackles who’d be good value at pick No. 44. Linebacker was considered too, but after Reuben Foster, Zach Cunningham, and Haason Reddick — who were already selected — there’s a sizeable drop-off in the “sideline-to-sideline” linebacker department and not one worth an early Round 2 choice.

After the releases of Aaron Williams and Corey Graham, the free-safety spot in Sean McDermott’s defense could use a top-level talent.

Jordan Poyer has underappreciated athleticism, but he’s clearly inexperienced. Micah Hyde will be more of a swiss-army knife in the secondary than an every-down safety.

Williams will have a defined role in Buffalo’s Cover 3-based defense. He’ll be the eraser on the backend who’ll man the deep middle and use his range and awareness to break up passes and snag interceptions on the perimeter.

In most Cover 3 defenses, especially in the secondary, the free safety is the key piece.

Ask the Seahawks.


Thoughts?

Yes, cornerback needs to be addressed. But this is the deepest cornerback class in at least a decade, so that can be done in Round 3. Williams is a young, productive, super-athlete who has serious play-making ability at a play-making position. Speed and athleticism were lacking at Buffalo’s safety spot over the past two seasons. With Williams — along with Hyde and Poyer -- that won’t be the case anymore.

What do you think about our Round 2 selection of Utah safety Marcus Williams?