NFL Draft Profile: Malik Willis, Quarterback, Liberty Flames

NFL Draft profile scouting report for Liberty quarterback, Malik Willis
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malik willis
liberty flames logo

#7
Pos: QB
Ht: 6005
Wt: 215
DOB: 5/25/_
Eligible: 2022
Atlanta, GA
Roswell

Malik Willis
Liberty Flames


Pros:

Ezring: Few players in college football were as prolific in 2020 as was the Liberty Flames’ signal-caller. Malik Willis is a true dual-threat option. With the ball in his hands, the excellent athlete is extremely fluid, flexible and shifty. He uses head fakes, jab steps and body language to set up his jukes. He also boasts impressive power and contact balance. What’s more, Willis is a patient runner with notable vision. He also has the burst and speed to make big plays on the ground. As a passer, Willis has impressive arm talent and can push the ball downfield on a rope. He also generally practices sound ball placement, giving his receivers catchable balls away from defenders. As a result, his misses are often un-interceptable. Additionally, Willis has shown he can get through simple reads and progressions. Moreover, the talented passer plays with respectable mechanics. He transfers his weight properly and steps through with his lead leg. Still, Willis is at his best when he is forced to create. A magician with the ball in his hands, the Flames’ star regularly displays stellar pocket presence and can scramble to run or pass. Willis exhibits proper mechanics and ball placement while throwing on the run. He can also make impressive plays throwing across his body or off-platform. It is worth noting that the gifted passer was able to perform at this level behind an awful offensive line that allowed pressure before he finished his drop somewhat regularly. Finally, Willis stands out thanks to his big-play mentality. He patiently allows routes to develop thanks to his trust in his own ability to create should the play break down. He also makes calculated gambles based on the safety’s movement. Still, he knows his limits and rarely attempts throws he cannot make. Willis excels at forcing offsides penalties and taking advantage of his free play.

Dietz: Willis operates as the starting quarterback for the Flames. Very solid and sturdy frame for what many would consider an “undersized” quarterback”. One of the fastest QBs I have ever seen on a football field - an incredibly long strider with breakaway speed. On designed runs, displays the proper vision and showcases superb contact balance as well. Arm allows him to make all of the throws. Deep ball accuracy is beautiful - effortlessly drops beautiful passes right into the hands of the receiver in the perfect location. Footwork for a mobile quarterback is technically sound. Occasionally stays even-footed on touch passes, but his overall ball placement is on the money. Nice snappy throwing motion - not elongated in any fashion.

Cons:

Ezring: While the Liberty star boasts a high-upside profile, he is not perfect. Most notably, Willis’s tendency to seek out big plays can lead to negative results. Specifically, he routinely holds the ball too long and hits his receivers late. What’s more, he typically opts to scramble if his best option is a check-down. Moreover, his affinity for scrambling leads him to tuck and run before scanning the entire field. He can, similarly, miss opportunities by overlooking open receivers. He also bails from clean pockets too often. Further, Willis can struggle with ball placement on occasion. He can put the ball too high or overthrow his receivers too much. He also can force his receivers into awkward positions by putting the ball on the incorrect shoulder. Additionally, Willis fails to consistently put touch on his throws. His 50+-yard lasers overshadow the fact that he either lollipops or ropes every pass. Willis also struggles with fumbles. He may also take time to adapt to an NFL offense.

Dietz: Needs to be a little smarter operating at the line of scrimmage. Calls his own protections, but often privy to his first read. Anticipation along the intermediate portion of the field is inconsistent, not every throw has to be a fastball. Passes outside of the numbers are inaccurate at times due to this issue. Pocket presence has its moments of anxiety - processes pressure a tick too late. Can get a little too cute running at times - will stutter step when the situation doesn’t present itself to do so.

Summary:

Ezring: A high-ceiling passer, Malik Willis possesses excellent traits for an NFL dual-threat quarterback. That said, he can release the ball late and overlook open receivers. Still, Willis projects as an immediate solid backup with game-changing potential. 

Dietz: Malik Willis was the core reason why the Liberty Flames were such a fantastic team in 2020, and his NFL prospects are sky-high. He needs to be coached up in between the ears, and he needs to ease up on some of his throws, but he is likely the most electrifying gunslinger in college football right now with his elite running ability. He has the arm strength of some of the NFL’s best passers and his downfield accuracy should make NFL teams drool. He is certainly in the mix with Sam Howell and Spencer Rattler to be the first quarterback taken in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Background:

Born May 25th in Atlanta, Georgia to parents Shastca Grier and Harold Willis, Malik Willis has had a bumpy path to the NFL. The high school star split his time at Westlake High School and Roswell High School. Willis was a four-year letter winner in football who led his team to the Class 7A state title game as a senior. He has also been named 7A AJC offensive player of the year and first-team all-state. Willis also lettered in baseball and was an honor roll student. 247Sports Composite Rankings listed the Georgia native as a 3-star recruit, the 368th recruit in the nation, the 21st athlete recruit in the nation and the 35th-best recruit in the state of Georgia. Willis committed to and enrolled at Auburn. During his 2017 and 2018 seasons with the Tigers, the athletic passer played in 15 games. The former three-star recruit admitted to becoming complacent with the Tigers after expecting to be a starter and claims the experience humbled him. Auburn coaches praised Willis for being a great teammate. After his second year at Auburn, Willis transferred to Liberty and sat out the 2019 season due to NCAA transfer rules before starting for the Flames in 2020. The star quarterback thrived in his new environment, recording 2250 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns (to just six interceptions). He also put up 944 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. Willis led the Flames to a ten-win season and a final Top 25 ranking in the AP Poll and the Coaches’ Poll. The athletic passer was Liberty’s first-ever Dudley Award winner, given annually to the top college football player in Virginia. Willis’s teammates at Liberty praise his work ethic and ability as a mentor. The accomplished quarterback is a religious person off the field. Willis is a marketing major. He has an NFL bloodline, as his uncle played in the league for 11 years. Willis played through a left-elbow injury for most of the 2020 season. 


One-Liners

Ezring: While he must learn to override his big-play mentality at times, Malik Willis possesses borderline-ideal traits for a dual-threat NFL quarterback. He has the potential to be a game-changer at the next level.

Dietz: “A player with a bazooka for an arm and elite speed, Willis is another good season away from being a true #1 overall pick contender.”

Grades

Current Player Value/Potential Player Value

Ezring: 7.7/ 9.2

Dietz: 8.1 / 9.3