The Pro Football Writers of America released its NFL all-rookie team Tuesday, and a pair of former University of Utah players, one on each side of the ball, made this year's squad.
Former Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles made the list, as did former Ute safety Marcus Williams. Bolles was selected in the first round (20th overall pick) of the 2017 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos, while Williams was a second-round selection by the New Orleans Saints.
The Utes had a school-record eight players taken in last year's draft.
Bolles started all 16 games at left tackle for the Broncos, the first Denver rookie to do so since Ryan Clady in 2008.
“Obviously, playing left tackle as a rookie is a tough job in this league," Broncos coach Vance Joseph told denverbroncos.com. "He’s faced some tough rushers. He’s held his own. He’s a fighter. He’s athletic. He’s going to be a great player."
According to The Denver Post, Bolles played 1,106 offensive snaps, second on the team only to Matt Paradis' 1,127, and 55 special-teams snaps this season.
"Being a young tackle, he’s had some ups and downs. That’s natural. But, moving forward, that’s going to be a good player for us," Joseph said.
Thanks fam! Grateful to have a teammate like you, pushing me everyday!! Wouldn’t be where I’m at if I didn’t have people like you! https://t.co/YDjT3R6FSS— Garett Bolles (@gbolles72) January 17, 2018
Williams, who started 15 games at free safety, was one of four Saints to make the all-rookie team. He finished his first year with 73 regular-season tackles, seven pass deflections and four interceptions. Williams added 13 tackles and a key third-quarter interception against Minnesota during two playoff games. His pick helped New Orleans cut its deficit to 17-14 after the Saints fell behind 17-0 to the Vikings.
Williams' teammates showed their confidence in the rookie following a standout season that ended on a sour note after he missed a key tackle on the final play of the Vikings' 29-24 win over New Orleans in the NFC divisional round playoffs Sunday, when Stefon Diggs scored on a 61-yard touchdown pass.
"Marcus is a special player. He can’t let this one play, as big as it was, you can’t let that one play turn you against him," cornerback Marshon Lattimore told neworleanssaints.com. Lattimore was also named to the all-rookie team. "He’s been playing great all year and just didn’t get the tackle this time. He’s just got to keep his head up, we got his back 100 percent."
I appreciate my friends, real fans, family, and team for everything they have done for me this season all of the support is highly appreciated!No the season didn’t end as planned but one thing for sure I won’t let one play define the type of MAN or PLAYER that I am or will be!— Marcus Williams (@MarcusWilliams) January 15, 2018