Round 3 (#67) – S Marcus Williams, Utah (6’0 | 195 | 4.56)
I mentioned the Bears need for big corners last round, but they may need a play-maker at safety even more. The Bears have a few young corners with potential (Callahan, LeBlanc, Hall, Fuller) but I’m not sure they have a safety worth keeping on the roster right now.
I haven’t completely given up on Adrian Amos but he took a significant step back in his sophomore season. One of the main knocks on Amos is that he has only forced one turnover in 30 starts. The rest of the Bears safeties haven’t been any better either. The defensive backfield needs players who are in the right place, can make plays on the ball, and force turnovers.
Utah’s Marcus Williams checks all of those boxes. The two-time All-Pac12 safety has ten interceptions, 129 tackles, and four forced fumbles the last two seasons. Williams is a true center fielder in pass coverage with explosive range, the ability to read the quarterback, good ball skills, and highlight-reel hands. His skill-set is exactly what the Bears need to shore up their pass defense in the middle of the field.
With a slight sub-200 pound frame, Williams may struggle against the run until he can bulk up a little. It won’t be for lack of effort though as Williams shows no fear of stepping up in run support. Surprisingly, Williams has plenty of vicious hits on tape and seems to have a knack for timing them perfectly.
That being said, he is on the small side for an NFL safety and even struggled at times with bigger backs in college. The technique and effort level are there though and with a little more mass, Williams could develop into an above-average run stopper as well. As a rookie, he should be able to step in and improve the Bears pass defense.
Most sites have Wiliams projected in the mid-to-late 2nd round, but he’s not a player who will be helped much by the combine (unless he runs sub 4.4). He could see his stock drop slightly into the early third round when compared athletically to size/speed freaks like Justin Evans and Obi Melifonwu. If he does fall to the third, then he shouldn’t make it past the Bears.
Sidebar: I was at the Utah / ASU game this year and Williams stood out as the best player on one of the better defenses in the country. He was always around the ball, in the right place in pass coverage, and showed a willingness to lay out for the big hit when the chance arrived. I was impressed, but more so that the rest of his tape backs it up.