The Tennessee Titans drafted Malik Willis with the 86th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, hoping he could develop into becoming a franchise quarterback. One year after drafting him, Willis might not even make the Titans’ 53-man roster.
Willis, a former star quarterback at Liberty, was viewed as a fringe top-50 talent heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. While the 6-foot-1 passer was one of the best athletes in his draft class, he was viewed as a raw passer who needed significant time to develop before seeing the field.
- Malik Willis stats: 42.8 QB rating, 0-3 TD-INT, 50.8% completion rate, 4.5 ypa
Related: Best landing spots for Malik Willis
However, Willis was forced into early action due to Ryan Tannehill’s injuries. As a rookie, Willis started three games and attempted multiple passes in three other contests. In eight games played, he completed fewer than 51 percent of his attempts and finished with one of the worst quarterback ratings in the NFL.
Eventually, Tennessee benched Willis late in the season. With the third-round pick on the sideline, the Titans brought in free-agent quarterback Josh Dobbs and started him immediately. Now, heading into his second season, the second-year quarterback is fighting for a roster spot.
Jim Wyatt, the senior reporter for TennesseeTitans.com, explained that there is a chance Willis isn’t on the 53-man roster in Week 1.
“Ryan Tannehill and Will Levis will be on the 53-man roster because Tannehill is the starter, and Levis was the 33rd overall pick and he’s going to be given time. So, Malik needs to keep improving, and earn his spot. Right now, I think he will be on the 53 himself, and I wasn’t thinking that way the beginning of May. Malik outperformed Levis this offseason, and definitely showed improvement from a year ago. But things can change.”Tennessee Titans reporter Jim Wyatt on quarterback Malik Willis
Wyatt’s reporting is concerning from Tennessee’s perspective for two reasons. If Willis doesn’t make their 53-man roster to open the season, when the team already isn’t viewed as a contender, the organization will be giving up on a top-100 pick after just one season.
However, it’s also notable that Willis outperformed Will Levis during spring practices. The reports from the Titans’ practice facility during OTAs on Levis weren’t positive. If Willis is outperforming him, it suggests the rookie isn’t close to being ready to start NFL games in 2023.
While Levis and Willis both offer enticing physical tools and have significant potential, neither quarterback has generated positive reviews early in their NFL careers. With Tannehill poised to leave Tennessee in 2024, the Titans’ long-term plans at quarterback raise doubts about the team’s ability to contend in the future.