We’re simply over a month from the NFL Draft, and no person has any concept what is going to occur. Certain, that may be mentioned for any draft — nevertheless it feels notably pronounced this yr due to one participant on the high, or possibly the center, or hmm … possibly within the 20s?
No one has any concept the place Malik Willis will land, nevertheless it’s greater than that. No one can agree on how the Liberty QB even initiatives on the subsequent stage. He’s a weird case of getting each bodily instrument you could possibly presumably need in a quarterback, however with out the reassuring school resume that makes a crew really feel comfy in choosing him. It’s for that reason we noticed Willis hover across the late 20s, and even early second spherical, previous to the Senior Bowl earlier than rising up the board with a robust week, after which rising once more on the NFL Scouting Mix. Time and reps made scouts really feel extra comfy, however that also doesn’t imply Willis is a assured house run.
Make no mistake, the missing school resume is actually the sticking level right here. If Willis put up the identical numbers, however within the SEC, there wouldn’t be a dialogue about how good he’s. He can be the hands-down No. 1 general decide, and groups can be clamoring to commerce up with Jacksonville. As an alternative we now have a stable school season towards sub-par competitors with below-average expertise round him at Liberty. It makes this all a leap of religion, however who’s going to take it?
The Detroit Lions at No. 2
This seems like a risk, albeit an outdoor probability. For the Lions to take Willis at No. 2 it might imply ignoring a sure-thing house run for a crew that’s in dire want of getting a dependable expertise improve. Nonetheless, there’s a lingering risk he could possibly be the decide.
I’m of the agency perception that the Lions are higher than their file confirmed in 2021. They performed groups shut with Dan Campbell establishing himself as a younger coach to observe. It’s for that reason I’m leaving the door open on Willis to Detroit at No. 2. In the event you imagine your group is trending in the suitable route, and also you don’t anticipate to be choosing once more within the top-five for a very long time, and also you actually suppose Willis could possibly be an elite QB — then it’s value it to take him at No. 2, sit him behind Jared Goff for a yr, and really feel assured you’ve handed the most important hurdle to rebuilding a franchise. It’s simply good move making.
The draw back is that the choice will perpetually be referenced as a significant draft bust when you whiff right here, particularly when the offensive and defensive position expertise on the high of the category feels so secure and gifted you could possibly be set at a place for a decade.
Three issues that would occur if Detroit takes Willis at No. 2:
- The highest defensive participant stays on the board (possible Aidan Hutchinson)
- The Texans now take a participant they thought can be gone
- Defensive backs like Kyle Hamilton, Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr. slide
The Houston Texans at No. 3
Houston appears very comfy with Davis Mills for now, however Willis is a straightforward participant to fall in love with due to his upside. Like Detroit, I believe that is an outdoor probability, however with the door open.
It’s far much less compelling to think about Willis on the Texans for now, as a result of I believe there’s nonetheless a ton of labor to be executed to mission this crew making noise. The construct shall be gradual, however they’ve the belongings from the Watson commerce to drag it off.
For what it’s value, I believe grabbing Willis at No. 3 can be the mistaken transfer for the Texans. Subsequent yr is a QB heavy draft, and so they have so many upcoming belongings that ready is the suitable transfer.
Three issues that would occur if Houston takes Willis at No. 3:
- The Jets get their decide of DBs
- The Giants possible land an elite line expertise
- One of many “large three” DBs (Hamilton, Gardner, Stingley Jr.) might slide out of the Prime 10
A commerce to No. 4 or No. 5?
Now that is the place issues get actually fascinating. If the Lions and Texans determine the danger is just too nice, we might see lots of calls being made on the No. 4 and No. 5 spot. Right here you’ve obtained the Jets and Giants, each with high 10 picks, and wishes that don’t assist choosing this early. Both crew might fortunately slide again and get extra sources, whereas additionally stocking the cabinets for the longer term.
So who trades up, and why? Properly, I believe the notion is that it’s troublesome to think about Willis making it previous Carolina at No. 6. The Panthers have been QB determined since Matt Rhule arrived, and so they’ve spent lots of time taking a look at Willis.
Instantly after Carolina you might have the Falcons and Seahawks, each of whom want a quarterback — after which it’s not that far of a drop earlier than you hit the Commanders and Vikings, largely working off stop-gap options and not using a stable future. Any of these 4 groups might conceivably transfer up, and hell, the Panthers could possibly be spooked and leap up too — simply to solidify their man.
Three issues that would occur if somebody trades up:
- Carolina might freak out and take Kenny Pickett at No. 6
- We might see a run on trades and groups leap up for gamers sliding
- A projected Prime 5 decide might now be accessible at No. 12 or decrease
The Carolina Panthers at No. 6
This feels just like the foregone conclusion right here. We mentioned why the Panthers would make a transfer, and it’s notable that Matt Rhule is on the NFL house owners’ conferences speaking up Sam Darnold — which certain as hell seems like one thing you’d do once you don’t need folks to know you need a QB within the draft.
Three issues that would Carolina takes Willis at No. 6:
- A high offensive deal with shall be accessible for a crew to commerce up
- The Texans might look to maneuver up utilizing their belongings to leap Seattle for an OT
- The Giants turn into energy gamers to regulate the again finish of the Prime 10
What if he makes it to No. 7?
Let’s get actually wild now, as a result of it’s right here I believe we might see a ton of motion. Now you’re taking a look at a place the place Malik Willis is on the board, exterior of the highest 5 the place draft compensation will get ludicrously costly in a commerce, and two QB needy groups at No. 8 and No. 9 lurking.
I believe that if Willis is there at No. 7 we might get a feeding frenzy. The Giants might sit and simply take him, making ready to half methods with Daniel Jones — or they might simply use that as bait for a crew to have to surrender extra in a possible commerce. Actually, it places New York in a super place.
If Willis lasts thus far I believe it’s wholly attainable quite a few groups come out of the woodwork like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Orleans and even the Texans leaping up once more, relying on how a lot they imagine in Willis as a prospect.
That may sound silly, however contemplate this: The 49ers moved all the best way as much as No. 3 a yr in the past to pick Trey Lance with an much more underwhelming resume than Willis’.
It doesn’t matter what occurs from right here out, Malik Willis will decide the Prime 10 of the NFL Draft, and every crew’s choice to both take him, or cross, might form all the pieces in April.