The 2022 NFL Draft is right around the corner and the predictions from this draft have been all over the place. We have gone from defensive and offensive linemen being the entire top-10 with no quarterbacks or running backs taken in the first round to predictions that a quarterback could go as high as No. 2.
A highly-touted quarterback prospect heading into the draft is Malik Willis from Liberty. Willis spent his first two collegiate seasons at Auburn and then transferred to Liberty to be the starter. He sat out the 2019 season and then was able to show off his dual-threat ability over his final two seasons at Liberty. Willis totaled 5,117 passing yards with 47 touchdowns to 18 interceptions and he added 1,822 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground over 23 games for the Flames.
QB Malik Willis: Scouting Report
Willis’ biggest strength is that he fits the mold of the current desired NFL quarterback. The strong-armed quarterback seems a thing of the past as the NFL is favoring quarterbacks that can throw and run. In 2020, Willis led all FBS quarterbacks with his 944 rushing yards and then his 14 rushing touchdowns were seventh in the entire FBS.
While Willis has the ability to be a threat on the ground, his accuracy when he is on the run is not nearly as good as when he stays in the pocket. While he is a plus passer, his deep ball could use some work and you would like to see him put on a tad more muscle. Otherwise, his biggest knock is that he is at the top of a quarterback class where the top quarterbacks still likely need a year before they start showing their potential.
Mock Draft landing spots
Willis is on the radar for any quarterback-needy team. He looks like the best prospect in the shallow quarterback class. He has been mocked all the way up to No. 2 to the Detroit Lions, but Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin attended Liberty’s pro day so even if Willis falls, he won’t go past the Steelers at No. 20. Willis could land on the Lions, the Carolina Panthers at No. 6, the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8, or the Seattle Seahawks at No. 10.
NFL.com has Willis listed as a player that “will become a good starter in the next two years.” For a player that is assumed to be taken with a prime draft pick, you typically would expect more confidence than that.
Mel Kiper/Todd McShay (ESPN): No. 6, Carolina Panthers
“Unless the Panthers trade down here, they won’t have any picks on the second day of the draft. This is their chance to get a quarterback. Willis is more talented than Kenny Pickett.” - Kiper
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): No. 6, Carolina Panthers
“This is way too high for my taste for Willis, but desperate teams do desperate things. The Panthers are desperate. They could also consider Kenny Pickett here.”
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): No. 9, Seattle Seahawks
“Willis proved he can be a top-10 upside pick for a QB needy team, which the Seahawks are after the blockbuster Russell Wilson trade that yielded this pick in return. Willis can develop into their new version of Wilson with strong arm, fine athleticism and overall toughness.”
Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports): No. 8, Atlanta Falcons
“The Falcons plan for the future with Willis, the Georgia native.”
Fantasy impact: Rookie year
Willis will only be fantasy relevant in dynasty leagues in his rookie year. That relevancy will only be that he will be taken in rookie drafts and will be rostered. Willis shouldn’t be touched in redraft no matter his landing spot. Even if he is the starter for a team, there should be at least 15 more quarterbacks with better outputs this season so he doesn’t have any fantasy value for a fantasy football lineup in 2022.
Fantasy impact: Career
If Willis can develop, he could eventually be a top fantasy quarterback given his rushing upside. It remains to be seen if his rushing will mirror more Lamar Jackson or Mitch Trubisky, but he has upside for his career. The landing spot will certainly dictate how soon he could be fantasy relevant, but you're putting faith in him being a fantasy asset in 2024 or after.