2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Malik Willis
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Willis started out his career at Auburn before transferring to Liberty. He broke out with the Flames in 2020,completing 64 percent of his passes for 2,260 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also rushed for 14 touchdowns and 944 yards. In 2021, Willis completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,626 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also notched 11 rushing touchdowns and 820 yards on the ground.
As a passer, Willis has some impressive arm talent. He can really spin the ball and shows no problems pushing the ball vertically downfield. The football jumps out of his hand, and he has easy arm strength to rifle passes with just a flick of the wrist. On top of arm strength, Willis shows a nice ability to loft in touch passes downfield. He can put air under the ball and drop it in. Some big-armed quarterbacks become so dependent on their arm strength that they throw flat passes, but Willis has avoided the trap, displaying touch-pass ability to go along with being able to fire fastballs with serious velocity. Willis has a quick release and can make plays off script. In fact, some team sources said that a lot of Willis' best tape came from when things would break down and he could scramble and throw deep down the field. With his arm strength and touch-pass ability, Willis demonstrated impressive deep ball accuracy in 2020. His arm talent has a lot of NFL evaluators and coaches very intrigued.
Willis has some raw elements to his game as a passer and needs development. The biggest point of improvement is field vision. He has to get better at reading defenses, working through his progressions, and throwing the ball to the right receiver. With his lack of height, Willis can get blinded by the line and does not see the field well consistently. He also does not anticipate receivers coming open and has to see them come open before he pulls the trigger. NFL sources have also said that Willis has poor awareness, which is something that will need a lot of development. Willis can struggle to operate exclusively as a pocket passer, and pro defenses could give him problems by containing him on the edges and forcing him to beat them from the pocket.
Willis has a tendency to stare down his primary read and predetermine where he is going with the ball. He needs to get better at working through his reads and get fast at it for the NFL. At Liberty, Willis had a lot of receivers running wide open, and he will need to grwo comfortable at throwing into tighter windows as a pro.
Footwork is another point of improvement for Willis, who can throw flatfooted and sometimes seems too reliant on his arm. Improving his footwork fundamentals will make him more accurate for the NFL.
To go along with his big arm, Willis is a true dual-threat quarterback is a dangerous runner. He has the quickness to dart upfield and good speed for a signal-caller, letting him accelerate further while running away from defenders. With his athletic scrambling ability and big arm, Willis is dangerous at ad libbing and can create big plays on roll outs. Making plays off script in backyard football is an en vogue trait in the NFL, and Willis showed a similar ability with Liberty. As a runner, Willis is tough and will lower his shoulder to run through contact. He will to need to cut down on that however, to avoid injury at the next level.
The NFL is constantly on the lookout for potential franchise quarterbacks, and Willis has a special skill set that could cause plenty of teams to target him. A few team sources have said that while Willis grades out as a second-rounder based on his collegiate performance, a franchise could easily fall in love with his dual-threat talent and take him in Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Jalen Hurts. Similar to Hurts, Willis has some limitations as a passer in terms of seeing the field, awareness, and demonstrating consistent effectiveness as a pocket-passer. Both have a good dual-threat skill set of mobility to go with arm talent. In the NFL, Willis could end up being a quarterback similar to Hurts. Some team sources have also compared Willis to Tyrod Taylor.
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