Meet Marquise Williams, the next Undrafted Packers Quarterback

After shattering an onslaught of records at the University of North Carolina, undrafted quarterback Marquise Williams prepares for his next journey.

Not many undrafted free agents are fortunate enough to call the team that signed them their home for an extended period of time. Some don't even last a month, some get stashed on the practice squad.

A record-holder at the University of North Carolina, undrafted quarterback Marquise Williams suffered this fate. He was brought into Minnesota to sign a rookie deal with the Vikings at the conclusion of the 2016 NFL Draft. Williams never saw the practice squad, but instead, did see himself suiting up for a division rival by the end of the month.

Entering Green Bay with the same chip on his shoulder he carried as a Tar Heel, Williams now prepares to compete with rookie adversary Joe Callahan for the third-string job with the Packers. That is, if the team decides to keep three quarterbacks on the roster, which is unlikely. Both quarterbacks will see their first glimpse of action this Friday night against the visiting Cleveland Browns.

Despite the obvious, potential fate of practice squad duties no matter the numbers Williams pads the stat sheet with this preseason, he brings a heavily-equipped skill set to America's Dairyland. 

It took an injury to UNC's starting quarterback for Williams' talents to come to fruition, however. Something Packer fans can relate to.

When Bryn Renner suffered a shoulder injury against North Carolina State, Williams got the call and started the final five games of the 2013 season. From then on, Renner declared for the NFL Draft and Williams proceeded to lead the Tar Heels to a 21-11 record in his final two years with the team. Williams also finished with a 141.8 rating and among many of the school records he compiled, 35 career rushing touchdowns jumps off the page — the most ever from a UNC quarterback.

The theme with Williams is his steady work ethic that earned praise during his college years. This was evidenced by his consistent leadership in the UNC locker room and by head coach Larry Fedora appointing Williams as the clear-cut leader of that team.

"I put in the effort just to be better," Williams told ESPN's Marty Smith in an "Inside The Program" interview from December, just days prior to UNC's ACC Championship match-up against Clemson. " I put in the extra work and the coaches like what I've been doing to lead the guys when things weren't right and when things got tough. They want to see how well you can lead the team when things are just going south."

Another constant theme for Williams? Commitment. Alongside the "12" plastered atop his locker at UNC representing his jersey number, spells the 10-letter word. 

"They feel like I was committed to the team (referring to the trust of his coaches) and I will do anything to help us be successful this year."

If he needed to scrape and claw his way onto the Packers' final roster, he would have no problem with doing so. Hard-headed and thick-skinned, Williams has been both suspended and kicked out of schools during his adolescent years as well as cycled through a rotating tier of quarterbacks. The same outcome with the Packers wouldn't faze the rookie.

"Just the things that people thought that would break me but never did. I still smile about it to this day and I still have fun. I see adversity as an opportunity."

Williams also trimmed down by his Pro Day, capping off the 2015 season at 225 pounds and cutting to 215 by March. A small, but helpful weight transition that may just help his quickness in the big leagues. 

On the field, he's about as much of a dual-threat to defenses as he is humble off of it. A bulky frame with 4.81 speed and a cannon for an arm that defensive linemen would be lucky to contain in the pocket. The second Williams breaks that containment, he's the last thing you want to see barreling at you in the open field. Yes, we're talking about a quarterback.

A good sample size of UNC's offensive playbook were designed runs for Williams, who also broke the school record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 2,458. There's no ruling out whether designed runs can be something the Packers pull out of their hat this Friday night. 

UNC's offense was designed for Williams to play out of the shotgun and not take very many rare snaps from under center. Pistol formations, read and spread options were Williams' forte at the school. Making the leap to the NFL, he was asked about his learning process to playing under center more regularly at his Pro Day.

"It felt great. It felt natural to me today, I just worked at it - me and Dak Prescott... Make sure that fifth step was great, that first step from the center is crucial because you have to get depth. Three steps, five steps, seven steps. Sometimes we do 10 steps..."

Despite his college success, not many had Williams being selected in the draft — instead, he was deemed as a high priority free agent. Meaning some team out there will want to stash him on their practice squad due solely to his ability, and if he can impress with the opportunities he'll receive through the month of August, that team might just be the Packers.

"I can make any throw like anyone at the combine can make. I threw the same routes - an out route, a dig route, I threw everything they threw. That's my thing, a lot of people criticize me, 'can he throw the ball short and intermediate?' Yeah, I can throw the ball short and intermediate. I proved that today. I only missed two throws but, I'll get my opportunity somewhere and somebody's going to be excited for me."

Williams will get his first audition with the Packers this Friday night in front of the home crowd at Lambeau Field. Kickoff begins at 7:00 PM CDT.

 

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (11)

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Nerd's picture

August 11, 2016 at 07:42 am

He needs QB school. He's got the tools.

These preseason games should play to his strengths, running around and making things happen sandlot style.

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HarlanHuckleby's picture

August 11, 2016 at 07:55 am

They should make whichever chump is wearing number 12 right now give up his number to Williams.

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ZacharyJacobson's picture

August 11, 2016 at 08:07 am

There's a #12 already!?

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Amanofthenorth's picture

August 12, 2016 at 12:01 am

Jim Del Gazio

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Amanofthenorth's picture

August 12, 2016 at 12:01 am

Jim Del Gazio

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Handsback's picture

August 11, 2016 at 08:53 am

Williams is why I love college football. The running QB and the mismatch it creates on the field. Unfortunately, it doesn't (hasn't long term) translated to the NFL.
So now we need to look at the guy's passing capability. My biggest hope is that one of these guys ("Remember the name Bo Callahan", or Williams) will make enough impression to get traded for a pick.

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CJ Bauckham's picture

August 11, 2016 at 08:59 am

I watched Marquise play quite a few times during his career at UNC. The good: great athlete. Decent arm. The bad: every read he ever made was a second or two slow. Especially in the sense of anticipating your receiver entering an open space and then putting the ball there; Marquise wouldn't ever see it until after his wr had entered said open space. Hopefully McCarthy can address this; otherwise I'd be surprised if he ever cracked the 53 (barring an injury situation)

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lucky953's picture

August 11, 2016 at 09:07 am

That's going to be a big problem here in GB. So much depends on reading coverage, route anticipation and precision of throw. Longshot for sure.

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al bundy's picture

August 11, 2016 at 07:06 pm

How tall ia thia guy? 6 ft 215 is a bolling ball versus 6'4. My bet he is closer to short than tall?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 11, 2016 at 09:49 pm

He runs like a fullback. Hundley and AR could both run rings around him. Spread offense - all shotgun? A little short at 6'1.7". Not a great athlete by his pro day measurables. Still, MN and GB must have seen something.

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al bundy's picture

August 15, 2016 at 02:20 pm

Both him and Callahan are have one thing in common. They are back up QB's at best. Neither possess the ability to take over a team. I like this guy better than Callahan. Callahan reminded me of Flynn.
You remember him, the highest paid QB to never really play football, just get big contracts and move on.
Today its the Cam Newton types that can pass, and are mobile runners. Callahan is short and can't run.

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