fbpx
Skip to main content

Where will Liberty’s Malik Willis land in the 2022 NFL Draft?

Vincent Frank

Former Liberty quarterback Malik Willis impressed onlookers during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. He took that to a new level during the program’s pro day just recently.

For the 6-foot Willis, this has been an opportunity for him to show teams that he’s capable of being a franchise guy heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s seen as a relatively weak positional group, meaning there’s room for advancement when it comes to the small-school product.

Related: 2022 NFL Draft rumors

Who is Liberty’s Malik Willis?

2022 nfl draft: best fits for malik willis
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • A native of Georgia, Willis attended Westlake High School in Atlanta before transferring to Roswell High School for his senior season.
  • After putting up 2,562 passing yards and 1,033 rushing yards as a senior in high school, Willis committed to Auburn. He was a mere three-star recruit in the class of 2017.
  • Willis never really got an opportunity with Auburn, throwing a combined 14 passes in 2017 and 2018. The team had future NFLer Jarrett Stidham ahead of Willis on the depth chart.
  • After sitting out the 2019 season due to then-NCAA transfer rules, Willis made his way to Liberty.

Malik Willis college stats and status as an NFL Draft prospect

Willis is seen as a true dual-threat signal caller in the same lane as the likes of recent first-round picks Lamar Jackson and Trey Lance. His comparison to Lance makes a ton of sense given that both played at small schools and were big time risers during the pre-draft process.

  • Malik Willis stats (Liberty, 2020-21): 5,107 passing yards, 1,822 rushing yards, 74 total TD, 18 INT

There’s obviously some concern over level of competition. That coupled with Willis’ raw game leads many to believe that he’s best suited sitting behind a veteran for a season. Again, it would be similar to Lance’s rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2021.

“Upside quarterback with special parts of his game, but with no guarantee they will be assembled properly into a finished product. Willis uses his rare combination of elite rushing talent and a rocket-launching right arm to unlock explosive plays in two different ways.

He has the arm to beat safeties to the deepest parts of the field and makes impressive throws from inside and outside the pocket. On the flip side, Willis’ mechanical and operational inconsistencies lead to erratic timing and accuracy, and he doesn’t throw with enough touch.”

NFL Media Lance Zierlein’s Malik Willis scouting report

Related: Malik Willis and top 2022 NFL Draft QB prospects

Malik Willis highlights

Willis took part in the Liberty Pro Day recently, and wowed those who attended the annual event. One throw comes to mind, proving that he has the untapped talent teams are searching for when it comes to potential franchise quarterbacks.

That type of arm talent just isn’t something you can teach. It became clear throughout the pro day that Willis was showing off said arm.

Five best fits for Malik Willis in the 2022 NFL Draft

Now that we have a background on Willis, let’s check in on the best fits for the talented young quarterback in the annual event starting late April in Las Vegas.

Atlanta Falcons

malik willis fits, 2022 nfl draft
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

This one seems rather obvious after Atlanta shockingly dealt longtime quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts. The rebuilding Falcons certainly have a ton of holes throughout the roster. It’s in this that a trade down from the eighth spot might make the most sense. That’s until we realize the team’s QB room consists of the recently-signed Marcus Mariota and Feleipe Franks. Ouch!

By either taking Willis at eight or moving up slightly for the talented youngster, the Falcons would be setting up a succession plan under center for second-year head coach Arthur Smith. The idea would be for Mariota to start for a season before turning the keys to the offense over to Malik Willis.

Related: NFL’s highest-paid QBs of 2022

Pittsburgh Steelers

By signing Mitchell Trubisky in free agency, Pittsburgh has made it clear that quarterback will be an option in Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft. Said deal came in at $14.2 million over two seasons with a mere $5.25 million in guaranteed cash. Outging general manager Kevin Colbert is not committing to him for more than one season.

Is Tom Brady the greatest of all time or a cheater?

Selecting 20th overall in the draft, Pittsburgh would have to make a franchise-altering trade to move up for Willis. That includes future first-round picks and other compensation. But it seems to be worth the price with the Steelers now facing their first Ben Roethlisberger-less season since all the way back in 2003.

Detroit Lions

Flush with two first-round picks in each of the next two drafts, the Lions have an ability to play it close to the vest at quarterback. They also have a stopgap option in that of Jared Goff under center.

With that said, it might be extremely hard for the Lions to pass up on Willis with the No. 2 pick in the draft. They haven been linked mostly to edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson from Michigan. Should he go with the first pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars, things get more complicated. Adding Willis to the mix at two rather than waiting until the 32nd selection to draft a lesser QB prospect doesn’t make sense for general manager Brad Holmes.

Carolina Panthers

Pittsburgh Steelers, Malik Willis
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

To say that owner David Tepper has to be frustrated over the direction of this organization would be an understatement. Since taking over as the Panthers owner, he’s been chasing after a franchise quarterback. Laughably, head coach Matt Rhule and Scott Fitterer thought Sam Darnold would be the answer last season. That was an absolute disaster.

After missing out on Tepper’s top target, Deshaun Watson, Carolina is back to the drawing board. Its options right now are Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo on the trade block or turning back to Darnold. Ouch. Why not exhaust the sixth overall pick on a potential franchise signal caller? Quarterback purgatory is a real thing, and the Panthers find themselves in it.

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle’s brass has pie on its face following the shocking decision to trade franchise quarterback Russell Wilson. Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider could not have handled that situation in a more disastrous manner. The PR is bad. The Hawks are bottom feeders in the NFC West.

How to change this narrative? Use one of the selections acquired from Denver in the Wilson blockbuster to bring in an exciting Malik Willis. He could sit behind Drew Lock for a season before taking over in 2023. At the very least, this would give fans in the Pacific Northwest some reason for optimism.

WATCH: Sportsnaut’s Carolyn Manno on the latest NFL rumors