While it hurts losing a player as talented as Marcus Williams to the NFL, he honestly made the right decision. In his three seasons at Utah, Williams showed all he needed to show NFL scouts. He is regarded as one of the top safeties in the 2017 NFL Draft. Top flight safeties are becoming more and more of a commodity for NFL teams as NFL offenses shift to being more and more pass heavy. Williams fits the mold of an NFL safety. He has great closing speed to play centerfield, and he can deliver big hits when needed. Opposing quarterbacks are often punished when they throw the ball on the former Utah ballhawking safety. Williams has picked off 10 passes in the last two years.
It might make sense for a player to return if he gets a low grade that he could improve with a big senior year. This however was not the case with Williams. He is likely a first or second round pick. He has been one of the best safeties in the country for the last two years, so another year at Utah is not likely to boost his draft stock significantly. There are risks coming back as well. A poor senior year can hurt a player’s draft stock. There is also the risk of injury. Williams did miss time last year with an injury, so I am sure that played into his decision to leave school early. With little to gain, and a lot to lose, it makes sense for Williams to turn pro.
The coaches clearly knew this was a possibility, and they planned accordingly. Utah has Blinn College four-star safety Corrion Ballard already signed. He is rated the No. 1 junior college satey by the 247Sports Composite. Ballard will enroll early and thus can participate in spring camp. Utah also has four-star cornerback Jaylon Johnson committed. Johnson, the No. 78 overall player in the country, is the highest rated high school recruit ever to commit to Utah. Great college programs lose multiple players early to the NFL pretty much every year. They recruit talented players to replace the guys they lose, and Utah is doing that this year.
Williams had an excellent career at Utah, and he will be missed. We here at Block U wish him the best in his professional career in the NFL. He is a great ambassador for the University of Utah. Having players leave early and go high in the NFL Draft is also great for recruiting. Highly rated defensive back recruits will see that Utah prepares them well for the NFL. The offer of immediate playing time is also a factor for recruits as well. Utah has Ballard signed and Johnson committed, and I expect they will land more four-star defensive backs in future classes. This Tweet from Williams will help: