Cleveland Browns bowl watch: Utah safety Marcus Williams
The Cleveland Browns will look to continue their rebuilding efforts during the 2017 NFL Draft. Utah safety Marcus Williams could be a player on the team’s radar.
There is only one week remaining in the 2016 NFL regular season and the Cleveland Browns still do not know their final draft position.
This much we do know: the Browns are guaranteed to pick no worse than No. 2 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft and they hold a second first-round pick courtesy of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Where those picks fall will not be determined until after the final week of the season. If the Browns lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers, or win and then hope the San Francisco 49ers upset the Seattle Seahawks, then the Browns will lead off the draft with the first overall selection.
As for the second pick in the first round, the Browns would currently pick at No. 10. But to hold onto that spot they need the Eagles to lose their final game to the Dallas Cowboys, who have already clinched home-field advantage for the NFC playoffs.
Since draft talk is always welcome in Cleveland, and bowl season is in full swing, this is a great time to get one last look at some draft prospects at positions of need for the Browns in game action.
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The situation at safety has grown so dire for the Browns this year that they have resorted to playing 33-year-old cornerback Tramon Williams at the position.
Utah’s Marcus Williams (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) is a first-team All-Pac-12 safety as well as a first-team Pac-12 All-Academic selection, so he checks two of the boxes that the Browns are looking for from their players. He has been a starter at free safety since his freshman season, making 28 starts and missing just two games in his career.
Those two games came this season when injury forced him to miss games against UCLA and Washington, but Williams still finished second in the Pac-12 with four interceptions and, according to Pro Football Focus, only missed three tackles all season – another area where the Browns need major help.
According to The Salt Lake-Tribune: “Williams’ game is powered by immense physical gifts: He has a 38-inch vertical leap (best on the team) that allows him to high-point passes. His sideline-to-sideline speed is probably the best among Utah’s defenders, and it’s rare to see a quarterback throw deep on Utah’s secondary and Williams not at least contest the targeted receiver.”
Williams is not content to get by on just his athleticism, however, but puts in the time during the week to prepare for game day, according to The Salt Lake-Tribune:
"Williams, who watches as much as two hours of film per day throughout the week. Even on game day, Hatfield spies him watching clips of the receivers and quarterback they’ll be facing in only a few hours. Those clips are a gold mine for Williams: They tell him what routes the receivers like to run. They tell him how the quarterback will try to look him off his coverage. He reads the ways that the offense will try to attack — and how they’ll be vulnerable."
Williams is projected to be a second-round selection if he enters the draft, so the Browns won’t be looking at him in the Top 10. But with a pair of second-round picks and a huge hole in the secondary, he could be in play for the Browns on day two of the draft.
Next: Browns grades vs. Chargers
Utah will be in action on Dec. 28 at 8:30 p.m. when they take on Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl.