In 2014, North Dakota State’s Marcus Williams found himself without a job after all 32 NFL teams passed on him during the NFL draft. Today, Williams finds himself competing for the starting cornerback job with the New York Jets, thanks to the hard work and dedication he put into his craft. After a 10-6 season, the Jets are NFL betting favorites to make the playoffs, and with Tom Brady sitting out the first four games of the season because of a suspension, they have a great chance to win the AFC East as well.
Most people that achieve the type of success Williams has so far would relax and enjoy the fact that they just achieved their dream. However, Williams isn’t like most people, and has the same mindset he had when he was undrafted in 2014.
Williams told reporters that he plays with a chip on his shoulders because he knows how far he has come and how much hard work it took to get to where he is today. He also added that he uses the draft snub as motivation every time he is on the field.
This year, Williams doesn’t have to worry about being good enough to make the final roster because he has been very impressive in training camo and the preseason. He went from the fourth cornerback on the roster to competing for a starting cornerback job. His coaches have been impressed with his performance and have been giving him some first team reps, and playing in on the outside while Buster Skrine plays in the slot.
The 25-year-old Williams had a breakthrough season last year, coming up with six interceptions despite playing in 27 percent of the defensive snaps. His performance helped him get some extra playing time he wouldn’t have gotten if he wasn’t playing well. Despite his success last season, Williams believes he has to go out on the field and prove himself once again this year.
Williams told reporters that last season’s success won’t help him play well this year because it is a fresh start. He said the team brought in more players this season either through the draft or free agency, so he has to fight for his job all over again.
Williams likes the way he approaches the game because he can never get too comfortable. He added that he never wants to feel comfortable about having a roster spot because he can lose the job very quickly.
While Williams hasn’t changed his approach to the game, his fortune has definitely changed. After going undrafted, he was signed by the Jets to their practice squad in September 2014 after he was released by the Houston Texans in August. Williams was on the Jets active roster by the end of October.
During the offseason, Williams returns home to Minnesota every year and works with the same trainer. The defensive back said he remembers where he came from and the people that were there for him when things weren’t going well.
This season will be different for Williams because he is coming into the season with high expectations from the team and fans. His performance last season earned him the spot he has this year, and now he has to live up with the expectations that come with being a starter in the NFL.