Playmaking free safety Marcus Williams has yet to play a down for the Baltimore Ravens, but he’s already being regarded as the team’s most underrated player, at least in the eyes of Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus (PFF). Monson notes that “Williams has been a phenomenally consistent player in the NFL, earning an overall PFF grade of at least 74.0 in each season of his career,” which helps explain why the Ravens signed him to a five-year, $70 million contract in mid-March, a deal that includes $37 million in guaranteed money.
But if Williams’ floor is a 74.0 overall PFF grade, his ceiling is much higher. The former New Orleans Saints second-round pick (No. 42 overall in 2017), has earned an 84.3-plus coverage grade in three of his five NFL seasons, “and now he goes to a defense in Baltimore with the potential to maximize his coverage skills and overall impact,” concludes Monson.
In a feature published on March 30, 2022, Seth Galina of PFF explained, in detail, why Williams promises to be a great fit in the Ravens’ scheme. It’s more than just that the Ravens “have been a high safety team for quite a while,” as Galina puts it. He’s also a good fit for the looks that new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald figures to employ, so “he can stay in a scheme that is at least similar from a pre-snap perspective to the one in New Orleans.”
Marcus Williams Has Yet to Earn Pro Bowl Honors
The hope is that Williams, 25, maximizes his potential in Baltimore and earns the Pro Bowl recognition that has eluded him thus far in his career, despite his consistently solid production.
During his five seasons in New Orleans, Williams — listed at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds — started 76 games and recorded 320 tackles (239 solo), along with 15 interceptions, 38 passes defensed, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a sack, as per Pro Football Reference. During that time, he started a minimum of 14 games each year; played at least 93% of the Saints’ defensive snaps every season; and recorded at least 55 tackles and two interceptions per regular-season campaign.
Williams Is Best-Known for the ‘Minneapolis Miracle’
Unfortunately for Marcus Williams, casual NFL fans remember him for a now infamous play that occurred at the very end of his rookie season.
It’s “unfair” that Williams will forever be associated with the so-called Minneapolis Miracle, says Monson, in which he whiffed on a would-be game-ending tackle of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The missed tackle allowed Diggs to score on a walk-off 61-yard touchdown reception, handing the Vikings a 29-24 win over the Saints in a divisional playoff game on January 14, 2018.
Some have argued that the Saints’ coaching staff should bear a lot of the responsibility for the result of the play. “The game should have never come down to a one-on-one tackle. It wouldn’t have had defensive coordinator Dennis Allen made a smarter call,” argued For the Win columnist Steven Ruiz.
Regardless, the Minneapolis Miracle hasn’t kept Williams from realizing consistent success in the seasons since. Now he’ll have the opportunity to spearhead what looks to be an embarrassment of riches for the Ravens at safety, thanks in part to the addition of 2022 first-round pick Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame), who Baltimore drafted at No. 14 overall.
That said, “the Ravens may deploy a fair amount of three-safety looks in 2022,” concludes Ryan Mink, staff writer for BaltimoreRavens.com, at least as long as highly-respected veteran Chuck Clark remains in the fold.
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