According to Mel Kiper Jr.'s ESPN 2022 NFL mock draft, the Washington Football Team will draft Liberty quarterback Malik Willis with the No. 11 overall pick.
"I like the fit with Willis [in Washington]," Kiper Jr. said in his first 2022 mock draft article. "Washington can't go into the season with Taylor Heinicke as the starter."
Washington has been in search for a franchise quarterback since the downfall of former No. 15 overall pick Dwayne Haskins in 2019. This season Heinicke underperformed after targeted starter Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a season-ending injury in the opener.
The long-time NFL Draft expert said he realizes the former Liberty standout didn't have much to work with in college, but still put up respectable numbers. Willis threw for over 5,000 yards, threw 47 touchdowns and ran for 27 more in just two seasons.
While Willis did fall into a bit of a slump towards the end of last season, throwing six interceptions in three games, Kiper Jr. hasn't lost faith in his NFL-caliber talent and versatility.
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Some scouts have even compared Willis' skill-set to that of former star Michael Vick.
"The more tape I watch of his past two seasons and the more I talk to evaluators in the league, the more I like him," Kiper Jr. said. "Put simply, Willis is the most talented quarterback in this class."
The ESPN analyst actually has the former Liberty standout as the first quarterback to come off the board. The others are Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett at No. 18 to the New Orleans Saints, Ole Miss' Matt Corral at No. 20 to the Pittsburgh Steelers and North Carolina's Sam Howell at No. 28 to the Detroit Lions.
As WFT coach Ron Rivera moves into his third year, he said he understands the urgency to find the team's next franchise quarterback. He emphasized how he and his staff are doing their due diligence.
"If we do draft that [a quarterback], we're going to play him," Rivera said.