New Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Malik Willis may have lasted until the 86th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but the hype surrounding the former Liberty QB far outweighs his draft position. I don’t want that to sound like a knock in the slightest. I’m just saying, the electric dual-threat quarterback has a lot of fans.
So when word got put out of the 23-year-old signal-caller getting the chance to make his first start on Thursday for the Titans’ preseason openers, there was plenty of excitement.
With Ryan Tannehill roaming the sidelines in an effort to stay healthy for the regular season, it gave Willis a chance to make a strong first impression, taking on the Baltimore Ravens. Maybe it’s only fitting that his professional debut came with Lamar Jackson on the opposite sideline, as the first unofficial touchdown of Willis’ career gave us a glimpse of a skillset reminding many of the former NFL MVP.
Even though Willis took the snap and initially rolled out to his right, he quickly realized he had to make a man miss, with Ravens first-round safety Kyle Hamilton coming in hot off the edge. Willis then spun around in the backfield, putting his foot in the ground before going in an all-out sprint along the left sideline.
Willis didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, but it wasn’t hard to see that his speed translates to the next level.
Related: Top 2022-23 NFL Rookie of the Year candidates: Don’t believe the Drake London hype
Malik Willis in his bag already as a rook
We even got to see a Patrick Mahomes impression, with Willis giving us a sidearm throw.
What else can he do?
While the TD run is fun and impressive, the biggest factor will be how Willis can command the offense, and how he continues to develop as a passer. But that shouldn’t matter as a rookie with Tannehill having a stronghold on the starting gig. For now.
Related: NFL QB Rankings: It’s Josh Allen’s world, and we’re all just living in it