Similar to Lamar Jackson back in 2018, Liberty quarterback Malik Willis is experiencing a catastrophic fall on the draft boards. Willis and Jackson were two completely different players at that stage in their careers, but there’s no question both were athletically gifted.
Willis is a raw prospect coming from a smaller school, but was considered arguably the top quarterback in the draft class before the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Kenny Pickett in the middle of the first round on Thursday evening. However, Willis remains available and the New York Giants have the 36 overall pick, begging the question, should they consider taking him as a potential solution?
Last season, Willis completed 61.4% of his passes for 2,859 yards and 27 touchdowns. His passing metrics don’t necessarily stand out, but he has a cannon for an arm and elite mobility from the quarterback position. With his awareness and speed, the Giants could strike gold if properly developed, and with new head coach Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka responsible for the development of Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes, they undoubtedly have the pedigree to raise a star quarterback.
While Big Blue has plenty of needs in the second round, notably cornerback and even linebacker, passing on Willis would be tough to justify. It is not often you stumble across a player with his type of athletic prowess and arm strength, and with a year of development in a fitted scheme utilizing his attributes, he could end up being the steal of the draft in the second round.
Most of Willis’s issues revolve around fundamentals and poor reactions. Often times, Willis will be scared into leaving the pocket or disengaging from his progressions prematurely, which takes away from his abilities as a quarterback. He tends to rely on his athleticism and running abilities far too often, which is something that an NFL team will likely try to ease out of him.
If Malik can stand tall in the pocket and throw the football accurately without breaking down quickly, he could be an elite quarterback, but it’s going to take time. The Giants signed Tyrod Taylor to serve as a potential bridge quarterback for the future, but he’s also used to playing a reserve role, helping develop Justin Herbert for one season in Los Angeles. With the Giants declining the 5th-year option on Daniel Jones, landing Willis would give them a great transition quarterback and allow them to use their 2023 draft capital on more foundational talent.
However, there is a reason teams are passing on the Libert standout, and if the Giants don’t see his upside, it is better they don’t take the risk.