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Seattle Seahawks evaluators feel Malik Willis is ‘nowhere near’ NFL-ready

Jason Burgos
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Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It seems that the Seattle Seahawks passed on drafting quarterback prospect Malik Willis with any of their first four NFL Draft picks because of a belief that the Liberty star wasn’t anywhere close to ready to contribute at the NFL level soon.

Heading into last month’s Draft, there was a great deal of speculation around several teams that might take a QB with their first-round pick. However, it was always far from a guarantee because this year’s signal-caller class was much weaker than previous editions. Meaning the teams most in need of a QB upgrade had to evaluate if taking one that early would be a reach and if they were better served in trying to address another positional need.

One of those teams was the Seattle Seahawks. Many mock drafts in April suggested they could take Malik Willis with the ninth pick and look to develop him as the replacement for former franchise quarterback Russell Wilson. However, when the time came to make a selection, they instead went with Mississippi tackle Charles Cross.

Related: Breaking down the winners and losers from the 2022 NFL Draft

Yet, Willis remained on the draft board all the way until pick 86 in the third round when the Tennessee Titans selected him. The Seahawks chose three more times before then and passed on the 22-year-old each time. And there seems to be a reason for that.

Seattle Seahawks did not have top-80 grade on Malik Willis

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Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

In a Thursday column from ESPN NFL writer Brady Henderson, he reported that the team did not have a high grade on Willis after doing pre-draft evaluations. Feeling he was “nowhere near” ready to come in and make a difference early in his NFL career.

“Malik Willis was a popular mock pick for Seattle at No. 9 overall. The Seahawks passed on Willis four times before he was taken 86th overall — feeling he was nowhere near NFL-ready, according to one source — and didn’t think enough of the other quarterbacks to take one with any of their nine selections,” Henderson wrote.

Kenny Pickett was the first QB taken in this year’s NFL Draft — at pick 20 to the Pittsburgh Steelers — before Willis was taken in the third round. In a post-draft interview, Seahawks general managers John Schneider spoke on their decision not to take a quarterback and how there was never a time that one seemed worthy of their selection when they were on the clock.

“It’s very hard on rookies to come in here and [compete right away]. You have to have unique, unique qualities,” he said. “…Continuously throughout the draft, it just didn’t fall the right way for one reason or another.”

Drew Lock — a player that was a part of the trade return for Wilson — and last season’s backup Geno Smith are expected to battle for the starting job in training camp.