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2022 NFL Draft Profile: Liberty QB Malik Willis

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Player Profile

School: Liberty Flames

Recruiting Profile: Click Here

Position: QB

Height: 6-1

Weight: 215

Year: SR

Jersey Number: 7

Offensive Scheme: Spread

Offensive Coordinator: Hugh Freeze/Kent Austin

Games Reviewed: 2020 Virginia Tech, 2021 Ole Miss, 2021 UAB, 2021 Old Dominion, 2021 Syracuse

Position Specific Critical Factors

Arm Talent: (7) Very Good

The QB position requires good accuracy at all levels of the field. The QB prospect must have control of the football to place the ball in tight windows and with the appropriate leverage on his throws. Ball placement is paramount when the targeted receiver is not open in the NFL. The ability to throw a receiver open (anticipatory throwing) can separate a good prospect from an elite prospect. The ability throws that are catchable and with good placement is paramount. A prospect's overall arm strength combined with the ability to change speeds based on throwing distance and situation is critical. The prospect's arm angles and ability to make difficult throws while off-platform or on the move are vital indicators of a QB's overall arm talent.

Decision Making/Awareness: (6) Good

The ability to make smart decisions on the field, with good judgment, and poise in the pocket, is fundamental at the highest level of football. Possessing the ability to process quickly on the fly can separate a prospect from being good or elite. The prospect's intelligence, field vision, understanding of coverage, and reading defenses are all critical. The prospect's ability to not break down as pressure builds is a key factor. Possessing the ability to recognize pre-snap and post-snap coverage is another trait that is paramount.

Big Moments/Clutch: (6) Good

Late game, tight game, playing from behind while under pressure; does the prospect rise to the occasion in the close games against better competition? Can the prospect deliver big-time plays under pressure in critical situations? Does the QB maintain composer and focus in key moments?

Key Strengths

  • Mobility

  • Deep Accuracy

  • Arm Strength

Key Weaknesses

  • Intermediate Throws

  • Touch

  • Ball Placement

Pass Game Summary

As a passer, Malik Willis has a cannon that can be his greatest gift and curse. From the gift perspective, he can flat out sling a deep ball, one of his best traits. From the curse perspective, Willis lacks touch, often sailing throws over the head or wide of his targeted receivers which happens at a higher rate on short to intermediate throws. As far as deep accuracy, he displays a high rate of pinpoint accuracy, especially while on the move.

Sometimes, Malik Willis can hold onto the football for too long, often releasing a throw too late and putting the ball in harm's way. He can be overconfident at times and will try to force throws into tight windows instead of taking the easier option, something many stronger armed QB's are known to do.

furthermore, Malik Willis has displayed good command of the offense. When pressured, he often loses eye discipline, dropping his head rather than keeping his eyes down the field a split second longer. Willis displays a good arm motion, and it doesn't change whether in the pocket or while on the move. He will bring a high-level ability to extend plays with him to the NFL, a trait that he will need to utilize as he works to further improve in other key areas.

Run Game Summary

As a runner, Willis displays elite-level traits from the QB position and will likely need to rely on his athleticism early on. His off-script ability allows him to add pressure to a defense, forcing teams to defend all eleven. He can provide a Lamar Jackson element to your offense as a runner and benefit by playing in an offense that uses zone read and RPO concepts.

Final Analysis

Most schools recruited Willis as an athlete and not as a quarterback as a high school recruit. In 2016, Willis committed to Virginia Tech as an athlete, and the program planned to transition him to play defensive back. After some thought about his future, Willis decided to de-commit, believing in his ability to play QB. He searched for a school that would afford him a chance to play QB. The school he chose would be Auburn under then-head coach Gus Malzahn.

While at Auburn, Willis would start his career as the backup behind Jarrett Stidham in 2017-18, only seeing the field for spot duty. In 2019, after Stidham departed for the NFL, Willis was poised to take over as the starter for the Tigers but would inevitably lose out to Bo Nix. That is when Willis decided to transfer to Liberty, where he would sit out the 2019 season under the transfer rules before taking over as the Flames starter in 2020 and 2021.

Malik Willis has all the tools and is a confident leader. He has a cannon for an arm but lacks touch at the short and intermediate areas of the football field. Upon entering the NFL, his greatest asset will be his mobility, a trait he can rely on while developing other critical skills as a passer. Willis can provide a Lamar Jackson style of play as both a runner and a passer, forcing defenses to defend all eleven. He will benefit early in his career by playing in an offense that uses RPO and zone-read concepts.

Final Grade Analysis

Final Grade: (6.4) (Developmental Potential)

(6.4) Starter Level Traits

Ceiling Grade: (7.0) (Instant Impact Potential)

(9.0-7.0) High-End Starter

Floor Grade: (5.9) (Role Player Potential)

(5.9) Career Backup Level


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