Malik Willis had an agonizing wait after being in the green room on Thursday night, but finally had his name called on Day 2 of the NFL Draft, with the Tennessee Titans selecting him with the No. 86 pick in the third round.
You best believe he’s going to make the NFL pay for it. In the past you could justify reasons quarterbacks fell in the draft. There might be questions about their maturity, arm strength, or below-average meetings at the combine. Outside of the fact Willis did not spend time in a pro style offense there’s literally no reason a team didn’t roll the dice on his promise.
If you want to know how guys like Russell Wilson fall to the third round, this is it. NFL teams aren’t above being monumentally stupid, and this is the perfect example of it. This is a player who might not have all the tools right this second, but his upside is second-to-none, not just in this quarterback class, but of the last several years. Willis’ deep throw accuracy was the best in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, he can escape the pass rush with his legs, he’s a high-character guy with a great head on his shoulders. In so many ways, outside of the size difference, Willis isn’t demonstrably different to Cam Newton.
That is what the Titans got with simply astounding value. It comes at a time the Titans are struggling at quarterback with Ryan Tannehill, despite having a playoff-caliber roster around him. The move will give Willis time to adapt and learn without the pressure of starting immediately, and when he’s ready to take over this team could have a truly dynamic offense.
I understand hesitation about this class in general, especially in the first round with the depth available at other positions. Letting a guy like Willis plummet like this because of those issues is beyond the pale. He is tailor made for the direction the NFL is going, and there’s functionally no reason Willis should go this late and Josh Allen get selected in the Top 10.
Let’s just break the statistical leaders between Willis and Allen from their final college seasons:
- Passing yards: Willis
- Completion percentage: Willis
- Yards-per-attempt: Willis
- Touchdowns: Willis
- Passer rating: Willis
- Rushing yards: Willis
- Rushing touchdowns: Willis
Knowing how many teams were wrong in their evaluation of Allen they still did this. Willis is going to make the league pay, and everyone who passed on him and didn’t have an established franchise QB will deserve being made a fool of for the next decade.