Kentucky safety Marcus McWilson is the newest member of the Oakland Raiders. He impressed the team’s coaching staff enough during the Raiders’ rookie minicamp on May 5-7 to warrant the signing.
McWilson was a top-20 safety nationally coming out of high school, but experienced peaks and valleys during his tenure as a Wildcat, which is why he didn’t hear his name called during the NFL Draft.
He is currently the third free safety on the team’s depth chart behind veteran Reggie Nelson and recent draftee Obi Melifonwu.
Bench: 19 Reps
Broad Jump: 9’10”
**All testing numbers taken from Kentucky’s Pro Day and made available by www.NFLDraftScout.com
2016 -- 13 gms, 13 starts, 69 TKL, 1 INT, 0 PD
2015 – 11 gms, 10 starts, 65 TKL, 0 INT, 3 PD
2014 – 12 gms, 3 starts, 30 TKL, 3 INT, 1 PD
2013 – 8 gms, 9 TKL, 0 INT, 0 PD
McWilson comes to the Raiders with a lot of experience under his belt. He played 41 games for the Wildcats and his tackling numbers improved each season. Wrapping up in space was a strong suit, as he racked up an impressive 134 tackles over the last two seasons at Kentucky.
He was the 18th ranked athlete in the country coming out of high school, according to www.ukathletics.com, which might explain his strength as a tackler from the safety position.
Off the field, McWilson brings a strong character and presence to the Raiders’ locker room. According to the Wildcats’ website, he took part in a volunteer trip to Ethiopia and spent time working with the Special Olympics in 2015.
McWilson only had four interceptions over four seasons and three of them came back in 2014. Whether it was poor hands or lack of opportunity, that kind of production isn’t exactly inspiring.
He flipped his collegiate commitment from Nebraska to Kentucky, a curious decision as the Wildcats aren’t a very strong team—they went above .500 just once during his four years with the team (7-6 last season). And despite being one of Kentucky’s most highly touted recruits, he still put up pedestrian stats as one of the main cogs in their defense.
It’s always a curious case when a top high school talent falls off the map somewhere along the way and that appears to have happened with McWilson. He couldn’t segue his gaudy high school ranking into significant production in college or become an NFL Draft choice and the question remains: what went wrong?
What he brings to the Raiders
He brings depth and competition at a thin safety position. That also, of course, means work on special teams.
Because he was such a star at Cardinal Mooney High, but fell back down to reality, the hope is that he plays with a chip on his shoulder going forward. His athleticism isn’t in question and perhaps he just needs some NFL coaching to finally reach the potential he flashed back in Youngstown, Ohio.